The death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has brought sadness to a great number of people. TGIUK understand that we reflect a diverse population and recognise that there may be different reactions to the news of the Queen’s death based on personal experiences and beliefs. Nonetheless, we offer our sincere condolences to the Royal Family, and we wish King Charles III every success.
Only a few short months ago, along with the rest of the UK, we celebrated the unprecedented platinum jubilee of Her Majesty, the longest-serving royal in history. As she pledged, in her now renowned speech on her 21st birthday in 1947, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” And to her word, she kept true to a declaration made at such a tender age. Her Majesty showed complete dedication and unwavering commitment in serving the people of the UK and the Commonwealth.
TGIUK celebrated the jubilee celebration with a series of articles reflecting on the seven decades of immigration and asylum in the UK during her reign. There is much to be proud of, but there have been, and still are, low points in our history of welcoming migrants and refugees. However, as her son King Charles III remarked in his inaugural speech to the UK Parliament,
“When the Queen came to the throne, Britain and the world were still coping with the privations and aftermath of the Second World War and still living by the conventions of earlier times. In the course of the last seventy years, we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths. The institutions of the State have changed in turn”.
Whatever the changes in UK legislation concerning the treatment of immigrants and refugees, Her Majesty the Queen consistently showed respect to people of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The history of the English empire can be contentious, however throughout the Queen’s reign, she maintained a positive and consistent connection throughout the Commonwealth.
A report in the media quoted Patrick Lionel Djargun Dobson, an elder of the Yawuru people and an Aboriginal, as saying how at a meeting in Buckingham Palace in 1999, Queen Elizabeth treated indigenous leaders with dignity and respect “for the first time in our lives”. The Queen was a beacon of hope and inspiration to many migrants who came to the UK, and her legacy will continue.
It is because of the respect Her Majesty demonstrated, that people of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds are unified in mourning her loss, a to share their condolences with the Royal Family, and to pay their respect one last time. The throngs of people outside Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Palace of Holyroodhouse are a sea of multinational, multidenominational people showing gratitude and love for their Queen.
While the media has covered the opinions of politicians and world leaders, the anecdotes of public members show the true nature of this formidable woman. Their stories show her as not just a queen but as a mother, granny, and a woman with a love of corgis and horse racing. Though royal, as we saw not just at the 2012 Olympics but as recent as June for her Jubilee celebrations, she had an amazing sense of humour and mischief. How wonderful to think that a woman of 96 could still surprise her family and make her nation laugh and bring the joy of Paddington Bear to a new generation.
While she did not often make public speeches, apart from her annual Christmas Day speech, watched by many families in the UK, her most heart-warming and encouraging speech was during the pandemic. At a time when everyone was feeling despair, fear and great loneliness, she spoke with the concern and positivity that made her beloved of her nations,
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.
As the country endures these sad days, we know better days will return. The nation now turns to King Charles III, who pledged just a day after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II,
“As the Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the Constitutional principles at the heart of our nation. And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the Realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life.
TGIUK hope that his expressed loyalty to the institutions of the UK ensures an environment and culture that demonstrates respect and fair treatment to all, regardless of status, nationality, beliefs or cultures.