Many across the globe were shocked and shattered by the news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away on September 8th. I (like many others) naively thought she would live forever, so to hear of her death was heartbreaking. The whole world is now in a state of mourning and unrest, as we can helplessly do nothing but watch the end of a memorable reign.
That being said, we must not forget the actions Her Majesty has done for not only the world, but also the actions within her personal life as well. So, this article seeks to commemorate some of those striking moments. While this list may not go through everything, let it be said that Queen Elizabeth II's rule was one that brought Britain great success, and truly helped shape the country as we know it today.
Her Involvement in World War II
It's not uncommon for royal family members to enlist in the army; Prince Philip and his grandson Prince Harry are two popular examples. That being said, there has been no female royal family member who has ever entered the military, with one exception: Queen Elizabeth II.
Like many young children at the time, the then Princess Elizabeth wanted to help support her country during the Second World War. She used her notoriety and presence to her advantage, and at the young age of 13, gave her first royal address on the BBC's Children's Hour addressing the concerns of the war. Later on, she participated in the Dig for Victory campaign and encouraged those in the country to start growing their own food.
Even as she got older, her involvement in the war effort didn't stop. She went on to join the Auxiliary Territorial Services (ATS) in 1945 at only 19 years old, where she assisted as a mechanic and driver.
Agreeing to Pay Taxes After the Windsor Castle Fire
Many know of the infamous fire at Windsor Castle, said to have been caused by a faulty spotlight that eventually caught onto a curtain next to it. It took five years to rebuild, and taking on a project that big requires lots of funds. However, the public was outraged by one problem: the fact that the Queen would have to use their tax dollars to restore the castle to its former glory.
The royal family never actually paid income tax prior to 1992, the year of the fire. Her Majesty, noticing her country's outrage, decided to change this due to the fire at Windsor Castle. She agreed to cover 70% of the restoration by allowing public access to Buckingham Palace for the first time (while earning revenue by paying for admission). In addition to that, she paid two million pounds of her own money.
From then onwards, she and the royal family continued to pay income tax, despite being the only British monarch to do so since the 1930s. This decision was truly a testament to her fairness as a ruler.
Her 2011 Visit to Ireland
You may be wondering why a simple trip would be such a notable moment for the Queen's reign. Well, readers very interested in history would know that there was notorious bad blood between both Ireland and Britain, amplified by events like the Irish War of Independence. Her visit marked the first from a British monarch in 100 years, making it downright momentous.
While there was no direct acknowledgment of the past between both countries, Her Majesty made a point to take a trip to Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, a memorial garden which honors the lives lost for Irish independence. She laid a wreath down and had a moment of silence to pay her respects, a gesture which was seen as a sign of peace.
In addition to this, the Queen spoke Irish during her speech at Dublin castle, which floored even former Ireland president Mary McAleese. Many Irish citizens who'd first felt apprehensive about her visit quickly fell in love with Her Majesty's genuine sympathy and respect for the country.
Openly Accepting Meghan Markle Into the Royal Family
Everyone remembers the sweeping drama and controversy that came with the announcement of Meghan Markle's marriage to Prince Harry. Yet little focus seemed to stay on the Queen and her unwavering support of this decision.
Unlike the tabloids continuously shaming Meghan with racist remarks and controversy, Her Majesty showed nothing but acceptance. It was even cited by Prince Harry after that famous Oprah interview that although a member of the royal family did speculate about the color of their son's skin, it was not "his grandmother or his grandfather" (aka the Queen or Prince Philip).
Just the fact that we have confirmation of Queen Elizabeth II's openness towards her grandson and loyalty to her family--despite internal conflicts amongst relatives--proves her justness, and why that carried her throughout even the toughest decisions of her reign.
Her Withstandingly Diplomatic Approach
Does the phrase "keep a stiff upper lip" sound familiar to you? Well, it is an expression Brits use to describe themselves as resilient when faced with challenges. No cracking under pressure or letting emotions consume your decisions. While to some this may sound cold and unsympathetic, oftentimes we need a clear head and a steady mind in order to make some of the toughest choices. This motto seemed to ring true when compared to Queen Elizabeth II's rule.
Too often we see politicians, celebrities, and diplomats break out into a rage of emotion when a diplomatic tone is needed. The Queen, however, has never lost her composure throughout her entire reign and its challenges: not through the Windsor fire, the scandals between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the 1990s, or the Brexit. It takes a lot of willpower to remain calm in the face of catastrophe, and yet she always did it with ease.
It's a tough thing to say goodbye to a ruler who has seen and been through it all. After all, for many of us this will be the first coronation we see, since the Queen's son, Prince Charles III, is set to take the throne. Yet, saying goodbye doesn't mean forgetting. We must never forget this seventy-year reign that has helped the Commonwealth adjust to modern times and achieve its goals, all under the guidance of a tactful and empathetic ruler.
May Her Majesty rest in peace; long live the Queen.