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A bridge over troubled waters

By Matthew Woolford

Much has been said about Queen Elizabeth II and the British Crown since her passing on September 8. Professor Uja Anya of Carnegie Mellon University took to Twitter to wish Queen Elizabeth II “excruciating pain” as she passed from this life to the next. She also described Queen Elizabeth II as “the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire…” (New York Post).

Anyone who has ever read Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa may very well be inclined to draw a similar conclusion. Rodney argued that it was the exploitation of natural resources such as iron ore and manganese, just to name a few, and found abundantly on the African continent, that led to an accelerated growth in European electronics manufacture, subsequently creating a still widening technological gap between first and Third World countries today.

Another crucible of European colonisation has been the underdevelopment of an education on intangibles such as leadership, management, strategy, and operational efficiency.

Unfortunately, these words/terms are still used interchangeably in many conversations in the Third World and may very well explain why states so rich in talent and natural resources still struggle to cultivate amongst themselves habits of sustainable development such love of oneself, country over political allegiance and a flourishing sense of community.

Queen Elizabeth II did inherit a throne with a very dark and compromising moral history but there is little to suggest that she lived up, or down, to this reputation. Britain was a declining empire when she began her reign. One superpower, Great Britain, was making way for another in the United States of America.

With this, England had to transition from a superpower to what may be termed as a global power, managing relationships on a more equal footing, becoming less of an influence in geopolitical matters and heeding a new cry for independence from many of her colonies.

The massive expenditure of human, financial and natural resources incurred during World War II did not make things any easier.

Through film and television, much has been explored about the real life of Queen Elizabeth II. In The Queen, she was portrayed as an often cold and lonely person. On the passing of her daughter-in-law, Lady Diana Spencer, she was initially indifferent, preferring not to show emotion of any kind, at least not publicly.

This changed when she was compelled to see the public sentiment growing within her own country for the ‘People’s Princess’. Queen Elizabeth then opened her heart, deciding to mourn in solidarity with the people she governed. Dame Helen Mirren starred as Queen Elizabeth II in this film and won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

On Netflix’s The Crown, Claire Foy played a young Queen Elizabeth II thrust into a position of power and responsibility with very little preparation. Or so she thought. She admitted to being insufficiently educated at school, only receiving instruction on the constitutional responsibilities of the Monarch.

Additionally, she often found herself drowning in the unhappiness that seemed to engulf the lives of most of the members of the royal family. To make matters worse, she had to see the back of her third Prime Minister within her first ten years, describing them as ‘a confederacy of quitters.’

But this is what I think made Queen Elizabeth II transcendent. Her purity of thought, unmarred by a useless clutter of human knowledge, allowed her to better make her own decisions. And whilst she made mistakes along the way, they were her decisions and her mistakes, and no-one else’s!

According to the UK Government’s website (gov.uk), this was the political mood of Britain when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in February 1952:

“By his re-election in 1951, Churchill was, in the words of Roy Jenkins, ‘gloriously unfit for office”’ Ageing and increasingly unwell…the Prime Minister’s leadership was less decisive than during the war. His second term was most notable for the Conservative Party’s acceptance of Labour’s newly created Welfare State, and Churchill’s effect on domestic policy was limited. His later attempts at decreasing the developing Cold War through personal diplomacy failed to produce significant results, and poor health forced him to resign in 1955, making way for his Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.”

Two days before her death, she invited her 15th Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to form a Cabinet in her name; the 14th having resigned amidst a bit of controversy.

And through it all, Queen Elizabeth II was steadfast! She kept a publicly acknowledged faith in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and remained committed and consistent for 70 years of public service. She performed her role as sovereign, maintained friendship with the Commonwealth and her allies and empathised with humanity as we surveyed crisis after crisis. Like the structures that line the River Thames, her reign stood like a bridge over troubled waters.

And this is why I am comfortable asking God to save the Queen!

May perpetual light shine upon her and may she rest in peace!