The news of the death of Her Majesty the Queen is both sad and unsettling. Without doubt, during such a long life, she herself faced and, in turn helped many of us face life’s tempests and upsets, with her own still, quiet voice of calm.
Throughout her life and that with her beloved husband and rock, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, wherever they lived and whatever their circumstance she always took the time to thank the innumerable people she met, for their contribution. Her life was irrevocably bound up with what she could do for others and an appreciation of what others gave.
The Queen rarely spoke out but instead weighed her words carefully, often achieving more by saying less. It was her comportment and grace that gave each of us the idea that we should try to do our best, just as she did without fail.
There have been many articles commenting on her wide interests and knowledge and the enormous numbers of world leaders she met who, despite their efforts, seem rather transient in the face of her longevity. Her steadiness of always being here and her experience, was of huge value to them and to us in an unstable and changing world. The creative energy which built and led the commonwealth was hers and her ability to get other countries to walk and talk together represented an enduring style of leadership the like of which is rarely seen.
Living here at Highclere, during any visit or conversation, it was easy to appreciate the Queen’s own love of the countryside. Walking through the fields here with her dogs, you realised her deep intimacy with her own farmland and those who live in the rural world, a knowledge and passion she shared with her husband.
Balmoral gave her such pleasure, with picnics and time with her family, Scotland was part of her DNA. She was Queen of the United Kingdom and every acre and person was of importance to her. She saw there was common ground, values and interests that should make us stronger together.
My own experience of meeting her was entirely due to her long friendship with my father-in-law and mother-in-law throughout their lives and, we were most honoured when she came to both their funerals. Thinking back to relaxed suppers, I can see her smile and hear her voice as I listened and learnt as they discussed horses. She brought joy, interest and kindness into a room and the world is undoubtedly a poorer place without her.
The Queen’s sure faith gave her a pillar of strength. To return to Shakespeare “for all the cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve”. Despite the palaces, her leadership was one of morality and the essential substance of what makes us good and kind humans, always offering and appreciating the innumerable small acts of kindness which bring us all together.
She was there in all our songs, in our language, and she still smiles out in all of everyday life, her character the one enduring constant in a restless world.
“Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.”
Long Live the King.