It is very strange to think that the most permanent things in my life have not been remotely as long-lasting as was the reign of Elizabeth II, and I suspect that many people, both here and across the world, will be feeling the same way today, whether ardent monarchists or simply admirers of her as a person. Really, there can be no doubt that something fundamental, something that, for most of us, always was and always would be, is no longer there.
Whatever one’s views of the value or otherwise of a hereditary monarchy, there can be no doubt that Elizabeth took her vows with the utmost seriousness and served diligently and with vigour right up to the very end. To do so unstintingly for over seventy years is really something quite remarkable, unlikely to be seen again for a very long time, maybe ever.
It is clear also that, apart from a deeply serious sense of duty, she also had a keen sense of humour, and was able to make those to whom she chatted feel at their ease, whether of high or low status, or even an ursine visitor from Peru. I have also heard from those who should know that she had an extraordinary ability to remember names and occasions, details that those around her would long have forgotten.
It has been unusual to have seen news reporters clearly emotional, striving to be objective while also personally moved, astonishing also to learn small details, such as the fact that she was a dedicatee of the Nursery Suite by none other than Elgar all the way back in 1931. Unsurprisingly she was the last surviving dedicatee, a link not only to the likes of Elgar but also Churchill and many others besides, a thread that linked us to the past, now broken.
For me, though, she represented values that have too often been forgotten or viewed as optional in public life, those of dedication, duty, service, decorum and honesty, and I cannot think of a single time in her reign when she made a misstep, which is something very remarkable indeed. It is time to reflect on this longest of reigns and the end of the second Elizabethan era.