A Woman of Noble Character

A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

On Thursday of this week, the world was rocked to learn of the passing of England’s Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen seems to have died with just as much quiet dignity as she had lived her 96 years on this earth, over 70 of which were spent as the reigning monarch of England.

The world mourned, in spite of the naysayers who chirped on about her days as the “colonizer” of the British Empire. For the most part, the commentary has focused on her strength, courage, and ability to lead the royal family and England with it through one of the most tumultuous centuries history has ever known.

The Dignity & Power of Silence

In an age in which everyone is all too quick to tweet their scathing opinions, to verbally cut down enemies online for all the world to see, Queen Elizabeth understood the dignity and power of silence.

Most recently, the monarchy has been lambasted by the childish behavior of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as the couple chose to “step back” from official duties and move to America. Particularly harsh were their accusations of racism within the walls of Buckingham Palace. But while Harry and Meghan prattled on to Oprah about the injustice of their posh lives, the Queen and Buckingham Palace only issued a statement that while “some recollections may vary,” the issue of racism was going to receive full attention but would be addressed privately by the family. The Palace wished Harry and Meghan the best, and in closing reminded everyone that Harry’s family would “always be much loved family members.” No cut-downs. No tit-for-tat. Just a quiet but firm and loving response to a horrible accusation.

Harry and Meghan are the most recent, but the Queen was no stranger to awkward family situations. She weathered the divorces of three of her children and the further sexual escapades of Prince Andrew as he got himself mixed up in the Jeffrey Epstein circle. But the most famous scandal she endured was the disintegration of the disastrous marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Upon Diana’s death in 1997, the royal family was bitterly criticized for seeming cold and distant. Instead of returning to London upon hearing the news, the Queen and Prince Philip chose to remain at Balmoral with Princes William and Harry.

As England mourned, the Queen remained silent, and the criticism rose to an unprecedented pitch. Even the Prime Minister got involved, going on national television to defend the royal family. Finally, the Queen returned to London, and for the first time in 50 years, went on live television to address the nation. Her speech was warm, filled with respect to her late daughter-in-law. She reassured her people of the royal family’s grief and made clear that she had spent the week caring for her grandsons. It worked. She won her people back with a short, warm, heartfelt speech, after a week of quietly doing her duty.

A Family Vocation

But the world is perhaps now most in awe of the Queen for something she embodied every day of her life, and which is so very lacking today: an unswerving commitment to her vocation.

For the early years of her life, there was no expectation that Elizabeth would accede to the throne. Then her uncle, Edward VIII, forsook his own duties and abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American socialite, Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, and Elizabeth became next in line to the throne of the British Empire. From that moment on, Elizabeth’s life was no longer hers, in a profound way. But instead of fighting the system, bucking her duties, abdicating herself, or simply running a little wild, she took up the full duties of the monarchy at the tender age of 25 years old.

A Faithful Mother, Grandmother, & Monarch

She never complained, never made the British monarchy about herself or her life. She didn’t have affairs (as many royal family members have, throughout history). She didn’t make splashy accusations. She simply performed her royal duties with reserved dignity and slowly modified her own behavior as necessary to accord with the times.

Elizabeth became more open to her people, addressing them on live television and radio announcements. She allowed the press to come closer and welcomed the everyday Englishman into Buckingham Palace. As she demonstrated at the death of Princess Diana, she understood her duties to her family, but also understood her family’s unusual duties to the rest of the world. It was surely sometimes a difficult balance to keep, but she did, walking the line between mother, grandmother, and monarch.

She also understood when the antics of other family members were wreaking havoc, and each time walked the uneasy line between mother and monarch. I came of age in the era of Diana, and vividly remember when the Queen finally gave Charles and Diana permission to divorce. The evening newscaster read that Queen Elizabeth had advised her son and daughter-in-law to end their scandal-rocked marriage, because they were “making England look silly.”

That alone was something she would not tolerate. Even when the rest of her family members seemed to have forgotten their place in the world, she did not. And no one was going to make England look silly.

She was a credit to her people, to her family, and to her Christian faith, a woman who exemplified familial duty and self-sacrifice. May she rest in peace.

is the managing editor of The Natural Family, the quarterly publication of the International Organization for the Family.

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