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Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Opinion: Thoughts on the death of Queen Elizabeth II

When I was in primary school we had regular music lessons. One day, I noticed the teacher had some sheet music on the piano. Printed in large letters on one of the sheets was the title of the British national anthem ‘God Save the King.’

It puzzled me, because at six years of age, I knew we had a Queen on the throne and her name was Elizabeth. Why on earth I thought, would the teacher have music dedicated to a King. Upon enquiring, I was told that before Her Majesty ascended the throne, her father George had been King. 

The history of Royal Britain has fascinated me ever since, and now, of course, I understand the hereditary process of the Monarchy and that yes, indeed, there were a hell of a lot of kings, and a handful queens regnant prior to Elizabeth the Second. 

But from the day I was born, until just a few days ago, Queen Elizabeth was the only one I’d known. She has been that constant presence my entire life. Chances are, she’s been there through your entire life too. 

Her death has therefore stirred up real feelings of grief. Her constant presence, and what she represented to me means that I had love for her even though I have never personally met her. 

Strange huh?  But this is the reality for many of us. Symbolism is a strong part of being human, and for me, Queen Elizabeth represented many things. She was the nation’s grandma in a way. And she showed courage and dedication to duty the went beyond what I have witnessed in any politician. 

It’s a curious thing really my feelings about the Queen. I am quite comfortable stating that I am a Royalist. Although I have lived in New Zealand most of my life, I was born in the UK and have a very strong connection to my homeland to this day. The history of Britain and in particular the monarchy is something I value and find incredibly interesting. 

I feel very British, but I also feel very ‘kiwi’. It’s never caused me to have an identity crisis because Aotearoa New Zealand is in many ways a British country. 

Having said that, I can imagine a number of my fellow kiwis may well gasp at that statement, but it’s true if you think about it. 

So, I’m a Royalist, but I’m also a fervent believer in democracy. How then to reconcile the two?  Well, I don’t need to, because I know that the Bill of Rights in New Zealand, and various laws in the UK guarantee me rights. The monarch essentially has no power, but represents something quite remarkable.

Our monarchy and democracy is a hybrid system that recognises over one thousand years of history. We have a head of state that can trace their lineage back to the earliest Kings of the original four kingdoms of England. There is something quite remarkable about that. The institution of monarchy gives a depth to our nations that you just can’t have with a president, elected or appointed. And I for one value that.

I’m sure King Charles the Third will be a fine king, despite his oddities. But, his mother was one out of the box.  She took on a huge responsibility at the age of 25, and never wavered in her commitment to the job. 

I am deeply saddened by the death of our queen. It is odd to think that this Christmas there will be no message from her, and slowly but surely her image will vanish from our coins. I give thanks for her life and her service. She was a remarkable woman, and I think the world will be a little diminished now she is no longer here.

Thank you Queen Elizabeth the Second. 


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