“Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith….” a remarkable name for a remarkable person. She has reigned longer than any British monarch. Queen Elizabeth turns 90 today and the world needs her more than ever.
The Queen is a great source of pride, inspiration, and comfort, not only to her nation or the Commonwealth, but to the world. While other world leaders shirk responsibilities for immediate pleasure or the spotlight, the Queen has always put duty first. Unlike others who are off to the golf course or the studios of the late night shows, the Queen, at the remarkable age of 90, is likely to be found commemorating her fighting forces, or visiting veterans and the elderly. She is her nation’s greatest champion-- a head-of-state who inspires great pride and affection, and a superb example of how to behave in a complicated world.
A frequent visitor to the United States, Elizabeth II is met with burgeoning American crowds, anxious to get a glimpse of this international superstar. I was honored to meet and shake the hand of Her Majesty at a Garden Party at the UK Embassy in DC during her May 2007 state visit to the U.S. and found the experience thrilling.
In times of celebration, we Americans have delighted at Queen Elizabeth’s congratulatory messages or formal reception of our leaders. In troubling times, we are glad for the Queen’s messages of support or condolence, as in her remarks in response to the 911 attacks: “But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’” When she speaks to us it is not just as a queen, but as a champion of Western Civilization, the Anglopshere, and as a mother.
Her Majesty is a great source of cumulative knowledge who has benefitted prime ministers, presidents, religious and other global leaders since 1952. It well-known that the Queen meets weekly with her prime minister, and frequently with leaders from every corner of the globe. Without need of a passport, she has visited an astonishing 128 countries.
Illustrating the tremendous value of the Queen’s advice, her longest serving PM, Lady Thatcher, said in tribute on Her Majesty’s 80th birthday : “The Queen takes an intense interest in every aspect of life in our country and she brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and a tremendous breadth of experience…Her guidance and advice are always most acute and as Prime Minister I was privileged to benefit from both enormously."
While heads of government come and go, the Queen has been an enduring voice of stability that has served the world though diverse periods and cycles. Considering the information to which she has been privy, Queen Elizabeth possesses amassed knowledge superior to most intelligence agencies. While the public are not aware of her conversations with the most-powerful, it is undeniable that the Queen has provided priceless counsel and advice in times of both war and peace, and has done so with ultimate integrity and discretion.
Her Majesty continually fulfills the promise she made 69 years ago: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
God save the Queen. May He grant her many more years.
Lee Cohen, head of the New York office of Off the Record Strategies and New York Director of The Anglosphere Society, spent years advising the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Western European affairs, and was founding Executive Director of the House United Kingdom Caucus.