Why, Exactly, Did We Admire Her so Much?
5:30 am ET Monday, September 19.
Mike touched me gently on the shoulder. An early riser, he is almost always up before the sun. The night owl he married rarely is, but he knew I would not want to miss it.
“The procession is beginning, Maggie.”
Instantly awake, I slipped on sweater and slippers to huddle with him on the couch. TV commentators informed us in hushed voices that we were watching an historical event being witnessed in real time by billions of people around the globe.
Billions in virtual attendance at the funeral of a woman few had ever met —one known simply by her first name, Elizabeth.
Or, more formally, Her Royal Majesty.
Most of you who join me here weekly are Americans. We are the daughters and sons of immigrants who came to the United States – voluntarily or not – from Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia. We believe in democracy. We are not royalists.
So what was it then about this diminutive white-haired woman, 70 years on the throne of England, that made us feel such a personal sense of loss at her passing on September 8? Was it admiration for her longevity, her deep sense of duty to God and country, her strong Christian faith?
Messages flew back and forth after we heard the news.
“I am actually feeling rather blue over the death of the Queen,” wrote my longtime friend Jillian. “She and my mother resembled each other – the hairdo, the clothes, the frail posture, the handbags…Both my girls texted me today to say they felt like they lost Grandma Astrid all over again…”
I had known Jill’s mother for many years but never noticed the likeness until I studied the photo she sent, where it is unmistakable.
Another friend in our blog community, Laurie Eve, sent me photos of her own mother (“93 and still sassy”), and I marveled once again at a “common” woman who so much resembled HRM in her youth. (“My nieces call my mom, ‘Your Majesty.’”)
And until they both passed away, how odd that I never noticed how much Queen Elizabeth’s white hair and deep-set blue eyes, devoid of mascara, reminded me of my own mother.
Our mothers lived to serve others – one on the world’s stage, the others known only to family and the many friends who cherished them. Like Elizabeth, they loved God and his Word.
“ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
For women of my generation, Queen Elizabeth II was the steadfast matriarch who reminded us of the mothers we have lost. Mothers devoted to family. To service. To quietly doing What Needed to Be Done.
They were the calm who carried on.
But for those of us who follow Christ, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was more closely related to us than any queen could be.
She was our sister.
“For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life,” she said in 2000. “I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
“I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.” - Queen Elizabeth II, as quoted in Christianity Today
Dressed informally in a wool skirt, grey cardigan, and sensible shoes – the ever-present handbag on her left arm - Queen Elizabeth greeted her new Prime Minister that Tuesday at Balmoral.
The photo recorded of the occasion shows her smiling brightly as she leaned ever so slightly on a walking stick.
Less than 48 hours later, she was gone.
I have a theory that in those intervening hours, Elizabeth donned her nightdress, wrote her final diary entry, said her nightly prayers, climbed into bed, and simply knew it was Time.
No fuss, no bother, no lingering illness. No bevy of courtiers hovering at her bedside.
Clear-minded and steadfast until the end.
At the news of her death, the Union Flag was lowered on public buildings across the United Kingdom. And for those who wondered why the Royal Standard – the Monarch’s personal flag – was not lowered? It’s simply because there is always a Sovereign on the throne. The monarch never dies.
On September 8, 2022, the Queen of England passed into the presence of the King of all creation. What a relief it must have been to lay her crown at his feet.
Rest in peace, our sister. We will see you again.
- Maggie Wallem Rowe
Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass.