Queen Elizabeth II - Model of Duty and Responsibility
These are times when personal rights are stressed rather than personal responsibilities. People cry for personal benefits and not for personal obligation. Acting responsibly and doing one’s duty have been fading away with the changing times. Numerous people who “do their duty” from all walks of life continually impress. Yet, many of them dismiss any praise by simply saying that they are only doing their duty. What does duty or responsibility really mean? One exemplary model is none other than Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Brief Profile of Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II (April 21, 1926-), born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, is the eldest of two daughters of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She was educated privately and assumed official duties at the age of 16. On her 21st birthday, she gave her famous speech to devote her service to her country.
On her father's death in 1952, she succeeded to the throne of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She learned of his death while on holiday in Kenya with Philip, her husband and third cousin.
Some of Queen Elizabeth II’s many firsts include:
- First reigning monarch to open the New Zealand parliament
- First monarch to be featured on Bank of England paper money
- First British monarch to dial the first trunk call on the new D-I-Y system
- First British monarch to visit a communist state when she went to Yugoslavia
- First British monarch to have a state visit with the Pope at the Vatican
- First woman ruler to be entertained by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia
- First British monarch to visit China
- First British monarch to visit Russia, Poland and Prague
- First British monarch to visit a mosque
Queen Elizabeth II and Her Devotion to Duty
The 58-year reign of Queen Elizabeth started when she was crowned Queen. Aged 27, she succeeded her father, King George VI.
As children, the young Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret were taught that they must always do their duty. They remembered the heroic tale of Lord Nelson who signaled the ships’ sailors that “England expects every man to do his duty.”
That dreadful day in 1936, at the age of 10, she learned that her Uncle David (Edward VIII), was not going to do his duty, and was to give up the throne for the woman he loved. By the abdication, her father, a shy man was thrown into kingship but who mastered his responsibility through hard work. She saw his father doing his duty despite hardship and illness.
During her wartime adolescence, the family decided to stay in Buckingham Palace, despite the blitz. Their home was bombed. In her famous endearing 21st birthday speech, she said, “My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.” That was a dutiful intent statement.
Now, in her mid-80s, she has not changed her core values of duties and responsibilities. She has held her family together despite the decade of turbulent years of her reign – the tabloid frenzy of Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie, death of her beloved mother at 101 and her sister Margaret, and the sight of her grandchildren some behaving inappropriately that the common people had had enough. Queen Elizabeth II has become a matriarch enjoying a contained 58-year reign. Her heir apparent, Prince Charles is finally married to Camilla, Princes William and Harry are officers in the British Army, and Prince William engaged to be married.
Queen Elizabeth II has kept the United Kingdom together. In movements for self-government the Irish, Scots and the Welsh have their own Parliaments and elected representatives. But even after some years of tumult for the Windsor’s, a strong majority of Britons want to retain monarchy in Britain. She continues to keep the UK together. Prime Ministers who have regularly reported to her on all state matters say that she is one of the most intelligent political advisers and one of the most knowledgeable.
The Commonwealth of Nations
Despite the unraveling of the British Empire at the end of the Second World War, the Queen has held the Commonwealth of Nations (or Commonwealth) together. There are currently 54 countries of the Commonwealth, with about 30% of the world’s population, a most diverse organization drawn from wide range of cultures, faiths and races. The Commonwealth Games is a regular event that occurs every four years.
Insights to Queen Elizabeth II
In recent years, TIME Magazine asked what a constitutional monarch like Elizabeth II actually do to justify her country’s steady devotion despite being prohibited from any real power exercise. Prince Andrew, in part, explains, “Duty is its own reward. She is very religious, but she is also philosophical. She feels she must do the job she has been given and that it will be for others to judge whether she has succeeded.”
Queen Elizabeth II has done just that and continues to do so. She is a person for all seasons. She is respected. She is honoured.
Coronation of QEII, June 1953, Counterpoint.Org.UK