“Service and Dignity” – The Queen’s abiding legacy

I learned of The Queen’s death in a Board meeting on Thursday 8 September, as the news flashed up on my phone, and I confess to having spent the best part of the past few days in a mournful mode, as the impact has hit of the loss which we have collectively experienced. Her Majesty The Queen was a phenomenal woman, who had (as has been brought home to us all) an astonishing impact on the world, through her commitment to tirelessly carrying out her duties. Her death, although feared and yet anticipated for so long, was nonetheless a shock to us all through its suddenness, and I know from speaking to countless friends and colleagues across the world that I am not alone. Sadness now permeates our interactions; grief lurks under the surface.

Flowers at Holyrood Palace on Saturday 10 September 2022

Of course, there is a re-commitment to the future too – King Charles III has stepped into the role of monarch, and has taken on the mantle of his extraordinary mother. How lucky we are, in so many respects, to be alive at the moment in history, at the birth of a new era, even though we know that this comes at the deep cost of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever people think or feel about the concept of a monarchy, there can be no denying that our constitutional monarchy has the ability to speak to people, and bring people together in ways that are deeply powerful and deeply sustaining.

It was the words of the (new) Prince of Wales on Saturday 10 September that struck a powerful chord, however, and prompted me to write this blog. In paying tribute to his beloved grandmother, he thanked her for providing an example to his generation – and, arguably, all generations. This example, for him, was one of “service and dignity” … and these words reflected so exactly what his grandmother embodied that we should dwell on them, and not let them slip away unnoticed. Serving others, caring about others, seeking to make a difference through action to the lives of others – and, sustained by her faith, doing so in a truly dignified manner, rising determinedly and relentlessly above the inevitable slings, arrows and tragedies of life … this was, in essence, what The Queen did. She was an incredible role model in her service, and in her dignity.

“Grief is the price we pay for love”: so said our late Queen, and we loved her for it; let us grieve for now, and re-commit to loving more, in every aspect of our lives, and with all of those around us. And let us do so with a renewed commitment to serving others, and to conducting ourselves with dignity. What a tribute to The Queen and her legacy this would be.     

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