Honor due: Queen Elizabeth II


My favorite screenshot from the funeral procession for Queen Elizabeth II (credit BBC) is shown below. Having left Westminster Abbey, the funeral cortege passes into Parliament Square under the watchful gaze cast into a statue honoring her first Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.

For all their flaws and imperfections, especially as judged by contemporary standards, and for whatever failings history may eventually affix to them, the institutions of the British monarchy and the leadership of Churchill saved western civilization during the Second World War.
Had the United Kingdom not been able to stand alone until the might of America came belatedly to the rescue of both Britain and Europe. It is quite conceivable, and arguably probable, that the war in Europe would have been lost to a murderous Nazi regime that, given dominion over both Britain and Europe (and the additional time it would have allowed), would have undoubtably fully developed modern technologies of war (e.g., jet aircraft, atomic weapons, missiles).
As it was, the race was close enough.
Moreover, World War II might have taken a far different course both in Europe and Asia, had Hitler — frustrated by his inability to conquer Britain — not turned so soon against Soviet Russia to fight a two front war that eventually proved unwinnable.
Supported by a nation willing to endure and overcome the gravest of perils, it was fighter pilots flying Spitfires as well as men and women of all rank and station serving on land, at sea, and in the air who won the war, Yet, without the inspirational leadership of George VI and the royal family, including then Princess Elizabeth, standing with the pragmatic and stubborn leadership of Churchill, all the blood and sacrifice of the British might have been in vain.
The death of Queen Elizabeth was surprisingly personal to a number of my British friends and colleagues, many rather hardened military and intelligence types not generally prone to sentimentality, but all stirred by patriotism. All also possess a deep knowledge and appreciation for the fragilities of history.
I don’t find their emotions surprising at all. The value placed on the virtue of patriotism along with a greater awareness of history, proved to be an underlying commonality in the balanced commentary I observed on both sides of the Atlantic, across the Commonwealth, and among allies around the world.
Those who offered more intellectually nuanced and sophisticated commentary — both scholarly and popular — were not nostalgic for Empire, nor blind to injustices and cruelties of slavery and colonialism. They were able, however, to recognize the multiple facets and layers of history and culture touched by Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.
Her reign spanned generations and eras of history. The emotions felt after her death related to milestones in both in the lives of people and in history written large among nations and peoples of the world.
To honor the queen was also to honor a generation.
Those could not achieve this balance in their commentary lessened only themselves.
As for my friends and colleagues, those with records of service generally view themselves as part of something far greater than just themselves in this world. Greater, at least, than the plethora of pedestrian and partisan interests that often distract us from our common humanity and interests. They have also proven themselves willing to sacrifice their lives for this “something greater than themselves” often represented by, and embodied in, their queen, country, faith, and on this side of the pond, the Constitution.
According, along with those whose lives she touched directly, those institutions she supported, and the subjects she served, those in the kinship of men and women of honor and valor personally felt the loss of a kindred spirit in Queen Elizabeth II.
Photo credit: Screenshot of BBC coverage of the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. London.  19 September, 2022.
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