The entire country came together over the extended Jubilee Bank Holiday to show appreciation and thanks for Queen Elizabeth II’s dedicated service and leadership over the course of 70 years. The country and the wider world have changed in many ways since the then Princess Elizabeth, at just 25 years old, ascended to the throne following the passing of her beloved father, King George VI. She has been a constant presence in our lives throughout the seven decades of her reign, a time when the United Kingdom faced many challenges and some incredible high points. She has been an ambassador for this country around the world and met with some of the most important leaders and global figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.
When she became Queen, this country was still recovering from the Second World War - a conflict in which the Queen herself served. Many people say that the Queen’s life was shaped by her experiences as a teenager experiencing the Blitz on London and later serving in the ATS. After the war, the Queen as the Head of State of many countries, led as the British Empire became the Commonwealth, and the process of decolonisation around the world continued at pace. Her reign has also covered dramatic changes in our way of life, our economy, and the incredible growth of new technology. There have also been huge changes in our society during her reign. The Queen has been a role model to girls and women throughout her life during a time when women have quite rightly become equal to men in many aspects. It is fitting that during her reign this country has seen two female Prime Ministers.
While the Queen has served this country without hesitation throughout her seventy years, she has also suffered personal tragedies. Most recently, the passing of her beloved husband, Prince Phillip, The Duke of York. Many of us have experienced loss and grief, but few people do so in the public eye, with such a weight of responsibility. The Queen has never wavered, never turned away, and never failed us. We are lucky to have such a person of national focus in our lives, and I wish the Queen many more years. Long may she reign.