What Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime of responsibility ought to imply to us now


“Obligation” and “service” would possibly seem to be odd phrases to use to a queen or king. They’re figures of energy, privilege and luxurious — individuals who dwell in castles with any variety of assistants at their beck and name.

However these phrases have been foremost within the official statements that adopted Queen Elizabeth’s demise on Thursday.

“She believed in service to her folks above all, and impressed so many along with her dedication to the Crown,” Governor Basic Mary Simon mentioned.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recalled that Elizabeth “vowed to commit her life to the service of the Commonwealth and its folks.” On Canadians’ behalf, he thanked her “for honouring this vow and for a lifetime of service.”

Former prime minister Paul Martin known as “the Queen’s devotion to responsibility … an inspiration.” Anthony Rota, Speaker of the Home of Commons, mentioned that “the Queen served Canada and the Commonwealth with nice dedication and distinction.”

“Her Majesty’s sense of responsibility to Canada was each deeply held and demonstrated in her actions,” mentioned interim Conservative chief Candice Bergen. “Queen Elizabeth II lived a lifetime of historical past and responsibility,” mentioned NDP Chief Jagmeet Singh.

Folks gathered exterior Buckingham Palace in London on Thursday after Queen Elizabeth’s demise was introduced. (Frank Augstein/Related Press)

On the most elementary degree, Queen Elizabeth served an establishment that — whereas imperfect and freighted with troublesome historical past — sits on the very centre of Canadian and British democracy. For greater than 70 years, she maintained that establishment.

The worth of that achievement turned extra obvious lately, as world occasions revealed that the steadiness of the establishments we so usually take as a right just isn’t assured.

From St. Laurent to Trudeau

The sheer extent of her reign is sort of onerous to understand. Canada has had 23 prime ministers in its 155-year historical past — 12 of them served beneath her. That run began with Louis St. Laurent in 1952 and ended with Justin Trudeau in 2022.

Earlier than in the present day, no Canadian beneath the age of 70 had ever recognized a world wherein she was not the reigning monarch.

“In an advanced world, her regular grace and resolve introduced consolation and energy to us all,” Trudeau mentioned in Vancouver on Thursday.

She little doubt felt immense strain to make sure the monarchy she inherited didn’t collapse on her watch. It might be totally comprehensible if she dreaded the considered being the final Queen of England (and Canada). And there have been vital perks to the job, clearly. However the discuss of responsibility and the burdens of the workplace, it certainly wasn’t all sacrifice and hardship.

Queen Elizabeth is welcomed by native residents as she walks the streets of Iqaluit on Oct. 4, 2002. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

However in line with public opinion, she did her job properly — even when Canadians have been lower than enthusiastic concerning the concept of a hereditary monarch. As of April, 63 per cent of Canadians mentioned that they had a beneficial view of her.

In the identical survey (by the Angus Reid Institute), 51 per cent of Canadians mentioned they did not suppose Canada ought to proceed to be a constitutional monarchy (a current drama involving the Royal Household could have contributed to that discovering).

The way forward for the Crown — no less than in Canada — is very removed from assured.

The first job of the monarch

Some credit score for the nation Canada has been, and has grow to be, should go to the establishment on the coronary heart of our political system. And writing the Crown out of Canada’s Structure would require plenty of work — and the options may not be any higher.

Nonetheless, the transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III might be a precarious second for the monarchy.

However beneath Elizabeth, it endured. As a person, she maintained it for greater than seven a long time — longer than another individual in that establishment’s historical past. She didn’t stroll away from the workplace (as onerous because it may be to think about a monarch quitting) — however neither did she, by her phrases or actions, persuade Canadians they wanted to be completed along with her or the establishment she embodied.

Queen Elizabeth sits alone in St. George’s Chapel throughout the funeral of Prince Philip, the person who had been by her aspect for 73 years, at Windsor Fort on April 17, 2021. (Jonathan Brady/The Related Press)

In the end, that’s the nice responsibility of the monarch and her representatives — to make sure that the establishment carries on. Even when meaning adapting to a altering world.

Earlier than Thursday, many Canadians possible took it as a right that she was there and would stay — in that fortress in England, on the backs of our payments and cash.

However her passing, in these tumultuous occasions, ought to remind us of how little we will take as a right — and the way a lot could be mentioned for dutifully residing in service of robust, enduring, democratic establishments.



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