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As the remains of Britain’s longest reigning Monarch and Head of Government, Queen Elizabeth 11, who died at the ripe age of 96 are committed to Mother Earth on September 19, her departure is not only a huge loss to the Royal Family, the people of England and the 56-member strong Commonwealth of nations, where her strides in the past seven decades remain indelible, but the entire international community considering her country’s crucial role in global affairs especially at the United Nations, UN.
And like all mortals, the Monarch answered the supreme call September 8 after occupying the throne in a record 70years and bringing what some public commentators have rightly observed marked ‘an end of a golden era’ in the affairs of one of the most influential nations on earth which in time past controlled most colonies (now independent nations) after the partitioning of Africa by the European powers in the 19th Century.
Expectedly also, her exit has continued to generate flood of glowing tributes from leaders across the world including American President, Joe Biden, Pope Francis and President Muhammadu Buhari, who maintained that, “the story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll” describing her as a “towering global personality and an outstanding leader” that dedicated “her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place.”
Similarly, it is note worthy that the Pope while extending his sympathies to the British Royal Family, praised Elizabeth’s service, her “example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises”, as the longest-serving head of state in the history of the United Kingdom. In similar vein, United States President Joe Biden called Elizabeth a “stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy” who deepened the U.S.-UK alliance while her “legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world.”
For the UN Secretary General António Guterres, apart from been saddened by her demise, “Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity, and dedication to peace around the world” adding that she was a “reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonisation of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth”.
Consequently, we join the global community not only to mourn the departed but acknowledge her attributes and heroine contributions to the preservation of peace, humanity, passion for service, stabilizing roles, a motivational speaker, and strong emotional attachment to the estimated 2.5 billion citizens of the 56 independent countries among them Nigeria, that constitute the Commonwealth of nations which she headed for seven decades and discharged her responsibilities diligently and patriotically.
Similarly, it is imperative to recall vividly that the Queen who ascended the throne in 1952 eight years before Nigeria attained independence from Britain in October 1960, played a historic role in not only facilitating freedom for the most populous black nation on earth and other former colonies without much bloodshed, but in conjunction with successive Prime Ministers ensured that both countries enjoy warm bilateral relations with the United Kingdom home to a significant number of Nigerians and contributing their quota to development of their host nation.
It is on record that the Monarch, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on 21 April 1926 became Queen of the U.K. and the other Commonwealth territories from 6 February 1952 also, served as Queen regnant of 32 sovereign states while alive and served as the ruler of 15 of them at the time of death. Besides, her 70- year and 214 days reign is the longest of any British Monarvh and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history.
We recall too, that she was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) with her father ascending the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. She was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service which ended in 1945 with the defeat of Germany and her allies by the Allied Forces in which Britain, Soviet Union, China and United States played leading roles.
Thereafter in November 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April last year while the marriage is blessed with four children namely, King Charles III (her successor); Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
It is also significant that when her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth—then 25 years old according to records, became Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), as well as Head of the Commonwealth where she has been championing the cause of peace, justice and fairness. She has also been described as a role model to many women across the globe on account of respectable dress sense, wisdom, compassion, and warmth displayed while her virtue of humility and selfless service to fatherland even at old age endeared her to many.
The Queen did not only reigned as a constitutional Monarch through major political changes such as the upheavals in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonisation of Africa, and the Britain’s accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union, the number of her territories increased over time as more nations gained independence even though some of them like Nigeria became republics thereafter.
Some of the landmark events in Elizabeth’s life journey included her coronation in 1953 that was reportedly beamed live across the world by television stations said to be the first of its kind by the media, as well as the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively. Blessed with good health, she made history not only as the longest-lived and longest-reigning British Monarch, but the second-longest reigning sovereign in world history, only behind Louis XIV of France.
However, her last public outing was the visit by the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who the Queen personally received barely 48 hours before her transition. She has also gone into the history books as having worked with 15 Prime Ministers ‘for weekly private audiences’ who served during her reign (since 1952), from Sir Winston Churchill to the present prime minister, Ms Truss.
But like every other human, we observed that the late monarch was not without media criticism especially of her family at some points, after the crashing of her children’s marriages while the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in controversial circumstances in 1997 was seen as a major misfortune in the Royal Family which generated outrage worldwide. In similar vein, Britain’s official decision to support the Federal Government against the Igbos during the Nigerian Civil War in which over one million people died in battle continues to receive condemnation from many quarters.
But as the world continues to mourn, we strongly commend the smooth succession system of the U.K. with the ascension of her son, Prince Charles now King Charles 111 to the throne and implore the new Monarch in conjunction with the British Government to consolidate on the warm bilateral relations between Nigeria and Britain which has resulted in no fewer than 178,000 Nigerian nationals resident in the latter at the end of last year. This is in addition to the 21,305 Nigerian students studying in the U.K.in the 2020/2021 academic session.
And since King Charles 111 has also assumed his mother’s titles as defender of the faith and supreme governor of the Church of England, as well as the head of the Commonwealth, a title that is not hereditary, it is our hope that he will pilot the affairs of the body in the spirit of fairness, equity, justice as well as give priority attention to the social, economic and technological development of the undeveloped members.
We believe that Nigerian leaders both traditional rulers and public office holders have great lessons to learn from the late Queen Elizabeth 11 especially her selfless service to humanity, fatherland and the many legacies she has left behind even though not directly involved in governance, but still won the hearts of millions of her people as the head of a developed society where today, the citizens speak highly of the late Monarch. Indeed, it is food for thought for all as Elizabeth begins her final journey and will be sorely missed by the British people.
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