HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002)

The Press Association

The enormity of this loss is just beginning to sink in. A remarkable woman born in the reign of Queen Victoria, who served her country publicly for almost 80 years, who rallied morale during the Second World War, and who lived to become a beloved centenarian great-grandmother, is gone. I cannot remember a time when I did not know of and admire the Queen Mother, who for me was a vitally reassuring focal point of stability and continuity in the turbulent modern world. No other public figure experienced the entire twentieth century; no one has been loved by so many for so long. She lived a long and full life and passed away peacefully in her sleep. I wish that she could have lived to see her daughter's Golden Jubilee celebrations; my heart goes out to the Queen who has lost both her sister and her mother in less than two months. May we all remember the Queen Mother's cheerfulness, warmth, and devotion to duty, and may this be a time for the British nation and indeed the entire world to come together in support for the Royal Family and shared remembrance of one of its greatest members ever. God Save the Queen.

--March 30, 2002.

Official Memorial Site
BBC News

The funeral was a beautiful tribute. The music, with works by Bach and Brahms as well as former Westminster Abbey organists, was appropriately superb. Organist Andrew Reid and the choir of men and boys filled the church--reaching a worldwide audience--with magnificent grandeur and angelic purity. Of course, one would expect the best at an occasion like this.

It's been said many times, but it really is true that no one does pageantry like the British. The processional and recessional were so precise and yet so moving. No instrument captures the spirit of the British Isles better than bagpipes, and the Queen Mother, proud as she was of her Scottish roots, undoubtedly would have enjoyed the sound and spectacle.

Seeing the sad but dignified royals in that procession and then during the service gratifyingly confirmed my respect and admiration for them. I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon struck just the right balance between inclusiveness and acknowledging the Queen Mother's Christian faith. This was definitely a memorable event for the whole nation, and for everyone everywhere who watched.

It seems that many of the British people have really rediscovered the importance of the monarchy, with even the left-leaning Independent reporting that republicanism is down to 12%. Let's hope these troublemakers remain an ever-dwindling irrelevant minority.

At least 200,000 people passed through Westminster Hall; over a million lined the funeral route from London to Windsor. Strangers were drawn together by these shared experiences: waiting in line to view the coffin, camping out for the procession, listening to the service. The Queen Mother's lying-in-state and funeral proved that monarchy really does bring people together. As we celebrate her glorious life and mourn for the members of the Royal Family who now have to go on without her, let us also remember this last lesson she gave us.

--April 9, 2002

European Royal Deaths 2000-2004
News Archive April 1-15 2002
News Archive March 16-31 2002
Columns Archive 2002, January - June