• Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Eulogies as world mourns loss of Queen Elizabeth

Elizabeth Windsor and colonialism’s false binary

Encomium has continued to pour in for British royal matriarch and the world’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth who died at the age of 96 years on Thursday.

The queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle. She had recently celebrated an unprecedented platinum jubilee, having ruled England for a record period of 70 years.

Across the world, Queen Elizabeth’s death has continued to send shock waves. She became for many the one constant point in a rapidly changing world as British influence declined.

The late monarch was adored by many for her love, grace and dignity across the world, devoting her life to service.

The queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change in the UK during her reign.

Born on April 21, 1926, she was daughter to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as well as older sister to Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (born August 21, 1930), who passed away in 2002.

Her Majesty married the late former Greek royal, Philip Mountabatten, later titled His Royal Highness, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London on November 20, 1947.

The queen and duke first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George, Duke of Kent, later reconnecting in 1939 at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where the two reportedly fell in love.

The royal pair were married for over seven decades and shared four children together: Charles, Prince of Wales (1948); Anne, Princess Royal (1950); Andrew, Duke of York (1960); and Edward, Earl of Wessex (1964). Philip died on April 9, 2021, at age 99.

The late monarch was also head of state in 14 Commonwealth countries around the world.

According to the BBC, Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and the UK’s entry into and withdrawal from the European Union.

Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Ms Truss, born 101 years later in 1975.

Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, aged 27, in front of a then-record television audience estimated at more than 20 million people.

Subsequent decades would see great change, with the end of the British Empire overseas and the Swinging ’60s sweeping away social norms at home.

She was reputed to have reformed the monarchy, engaging with the public through walkabouts, royal visits and attendance at public events.

Her commitment to the Commonwealth was constant; she visited every Commonwealth country at least once.

She had a special relationship with Africa. During her reign, the queen was reputed to have visited more than 20 African countries.

She once jokingly said in front of a smiling Nelson Mandela that she has been to more of Africa than almost anybody.

Having inherited a vast empire spanning the African continent upon becoming Queen, her reign saw all 14 African British colonies gain their independence, starting with Ghana in 1957.

The creation of the Commonwealth helped the late queen Elizabeth to constantly maintain close relationships with the continent.

In the last few days since her death, world leaders, political leaders and have continued to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen on days before death, said the monarch was the rock on which modern Britain was built; who had provided Britain and the Commonwealth with the stability and strength that was needed.

Truss said, “We offer him our loyalty and devotion, just as his mother devoted so much, to so many, for so long.

“And with the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country, exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words ‘God save the King.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader to the Church of England of which the monarch is supreme governor expressed his profound sadness.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Queen Elizabeth had been widely admired, for her grace, dignity and dedication around the world.

“As the United Kingdom’s longest-lived and longest-reigning head of state, Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change,” Guterres said.

Also, the White House expressed its deep sympathies, noting she was the leader of one of the United States’ strongest allies.

Equally, EU leaders also expressed regret at the death of the queen, who was head of state throughout Britain’s entire EU membership and eventual departure.

“Once called ‘Elizabeth the Steadfast’, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment,” EU council president Charles Michel tweeted last Thursday.

Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari, which is Britain’s biggest former colony in Africa, wrote a long tribute to her on Twitter immediately after the news of her death, saying he learnt of her death with immense sadness.

“The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader.

“She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place.”

President Buhari also welcomed the ascension of His Majesty, King Charles III to the throne.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya described her as a towering icon of selfless service to humanity and a key figurehead of not only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations where Kenya is a distinguished member, but the entire world.

Some Africa’s own monarchs have also expressed their sadness.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi paid his respects on behalf of King Misuzulu KaZwelithini, the leader of South Africa’s Zulu people.

He highlighted his treasured friendship with King Charles III, sending personal condolences to him.

Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, paid his tribute in a tweet via his twitter handle, saying that the late Queen was a champion of social change and a protagonist of modern Britain, adding that her death will be deeply felt globally.

Read also: Celebrities, world leaders Pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth

Jonathan tweeted: “My deepest condolences to King Charles, the United Kingdom and the entire Commonwealth over the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history.

“She was a well-loved sovereign with a strong sense of duty and service, a champion of social change and a protagonist of modern Britain.

“Her Majesty was a remarkable matriarch who exemplified dignity, selflessness, and compassion and, for a long time, stood as a symbol of unity in the Commonwealth.

“Her death will be deeply felt across the world. May God comfort her family and grant her soul eternal repose.- GEJ.”

Also reacting, Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Peter Obi, wrote on Twitter: “I am saddened to hear of the passing on of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. My thoughts and prayers are with the @RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations, over this irreplaceable loss.

“Hers was an impactful reign and beautiful and explored life devoted to democratic ideals, charity, selflessness and empathy. She will always be remembered by the lives, organisations, institutions and countries she positively touched during her reign. May she rest in eternal peace. –PO.”

Furthermore, Atiku Abubakar, former Nigeria’s vice president and presidential candidate of the main opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also pays tribute to the late monarch, describing her death as the end of a golden era.

According to Atiku, The passing of Queen Elizabeth II comes to everyone around the globe with a rude shock. Her passing is the end of a golden era. Her reign was epochal, not just in the United Kingdom but the entire Commonwealth.

“The world has known only one Queen, and the passing of Queen Elizabeth II will be the end of an impactful reign, and for the rest of our humanity, it shall be the beginning of history”.

In his tribute, Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), for the 2023 general election, said the late queen would be remembered for her dedication and deep sense of duty.

In a statement, by his media office, Tinubu noted that the queen was the United Kingdom’s greatest monarch.

Tinubu said by his death, the world has lost a revered icon.

“With the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom has lost one of its greatest ever monarchs and the world has lost a much cherished, revered and admired Icon.

He noted that her energy, dedication, deep sense of duty and firm belief in the glory of the United Kingdom were the lasting legacies for which she would always be remembered.

This, Tinubu said, was particularly in the most troubling and troubled times of her long and distinguished reign.

He said that as the first British monarch to reach seven decades on the throne, her patriotic role birthed and sustained warm and enduring friendship between the UK and Nigeria.

“My family’s thoughts and prayers are with the new King, Charles III, the entire Royal Family and all Commonwealth Nations at this time of mourning and sadness.

“May she rest in eternal peace,” Tinubu said.

In its tribute contained in a newsletter shared Friday, Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, said: “Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch died Thursday, September 9th at Balmoral Castle, aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.
“Her loss will be deeply felt throughout the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. Her death has also brought back the role of the British Empire in the slave trade and the dehumanisation of people of color around the world.”

Her eldest son, Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will lead England in mourning as the new King.