Even as the Queen’s speech was presented in the UK parliament (with Jeremy Corbyn and Dennis Skinner being their cocky selves), I can all but look back in warmth and appreciation for the Queen’s years of service to the people of her country, in particular, and to the world, in general, at large. Her Sapphire Jubilee as monarch has passed and there is still very little that the scion of the House of Windsor cannot do herself, when it comes to public life.
Personally, I do believe that portions of the Commonwealth that still remain under the Queen, without letting Republicans get ahead of themselves, remain so only because of her presence. Her journey has spanned times that saw decolonisation of sections of the British empire to times that saw the modernising the ways in which the British royalty connected to the people. Not only was she the first English monarch to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress, she has also kept a consistently high rating among her countrymen and members of the Commonwealth, even during times of personal or public tragedies.
Simply put, the people love the queen.
As I look respectfully at her long life, I cannot help but cherish the one moment that was so sweet and moving, and which truly began my journey to the UK: a letter from the Queen.
It was the summer of 2014 and I was about to complete my graduation from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. I had been weighing my options for further studies and Cambridge was right up there. I had got a scholarship from Amsterdam and Edinburgh but the Oxon still exerted a subtle tug of sorts, due to its teaching, research and legacy. And then I did the nearly unthinkable. I had written to a few Nobel Laureates in my college days including Wolfgang Ketterle and Peter Higgs on topics in Physics (and got replies in due time; Prof. Higgs and a colleague even helped me get the 10,000 £ Walter Scott Scholarship in the University of Edinburgh) but never to a sovereign of a country. This time, I did. I wrote to the Queen. Telling her about my journey, about my life as a student of science and about the United Kingdom. After the letter got sent, it was a fair few weeks and I half-expected not to get a response.
And then I did!
It was an appreciative letter full of warmth, encouraging me in my journey ahead. I safekept the letter from Buckingham Palace as a cherished memorabilia and still have it with me, reminding me about where I began my journey of further studies and where I am and where I need to be. Almost two courses, eight scholarships and three years later, I feel I have come a certain distance though there is still a long, long way to go.
Today, I look at her Queen’s Speech and am happy to see the concern of the sovereign and her government for the populace. A patron of 600 organisations and charities, she remains devoted to her sense of civic and religious duties (as head of the Church of England). Yes, there may be a lot that can be improved in the state of functioning of the administration in the U.K. Yes, there may be times when fingers were pointed at the Queen for some problems that the Royal Family faced over the years. Yes, the monarchy may or may not be the most necessary political element in the UK today and has had its fair share of involvement in some of the most tragic episodes in the history of mankind, including the Bengal famine, Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and the Boer War concentration camps.
But times have changed.
The people at the helm of matters have changed.
The attitude towards various topics of relevance and the state of affairs in most of the world have changed (drastically, if I may add, after the Cold War).
The Queen who led Britain through perilous times with her deft handling of matters is undoubtably an asset to her country and the world because of her persona, charm and balanced approach to subjects. She is the longest reigning monarch in the world today and I wish her well for the years ahead. Motherly, compassionate and peerless, in her own way, the Queen stands out.