The Daily Telegraph
The world will honour Queen Elizabeth, who kept her vow to serve a family of nations
SIR – While touring South Africa in 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth made a wonderful broadcast speech on her 21st birthday, dedicating her whole life, “whether it be long or short”, to the service of “our great imperial family to which we all belong”.
This remarkable act was not only for the people of Britain, but also for those of Commonwealth countries across the world. It concluded with an emotional recognition that she “shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me as I now invite you to do ... God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.”
In 1953, having camped overnight on the Mall, cheering as Queen Elizabeth waved from her golden coach, and later watching on television as the awesome coronation majesty enveloped this small, vulnerable woman, we wondered if her vow would prove impossible to keep. Now, in September 2022, all doubt has been removed, as the nation, the Commonwealth and the world unite to mourn, cheer and honour the most amazing Elizabeth the Great.
SIR – Queen Elizabeth had an extraordinary international reach and grew into a global icon. She strengthened Britain’s position in international relations. The reasons for this were a combination of the different roles she played, the length of her reign and her natural flair for diplomacy.
Above all, the Queen had an international footprint, as sovereign of 15 countries and head of 54 nations of the Commonwealth. The longevity of her reign meant that she travelled to more than 100 countries and hosted more than 150 state visits – often the highlight of a foreign leader’s period in office.
She was well versed in international diplomacy, attending every Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting from Ottawa in 1973 until Perth in 2011. She hosted many other summits in Britain, including famously the G20 in 2009, Nato in 2019 and the G7 in Cornwall last year.
All of this boosted Britain’s international standing and our soft power. Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister, put it well when he remarked: “The Queen knows when she enters the room she is the most compelling head of state there. She is number one, even though her country is not number one.”
Zaki Cooper London NW4
SIR – Watching the BBC live stream from overseas, I get overwhelmed by the great British people filing past the late Queen’s coffin, from all walks of life, from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, all united by such solemn dignity.
Indianapolis, United States
SIR – On September 15 I was fortunate to go to London for the lying in state of our much loved and respected late Queen. I count it as the greatest privilege of my life to have witnessed the scene in the magnificence of Westminster Hall.
I would like to pay tribute to the excellent organisation of the event. The management of the queue was masterful. Everyone who played a part – the police, the clergy, the security, the first aiders and the Scouts – did so with total helpfulness and courtesy. I have never felt prouder to be British.
sir – I also proudly lined the route for the state funeral of King George VI in 1952 (Letters, September 16).
I was at RAF Bridgnorth doing basic training, having been called up for national service. One day our squad of 60 was marched into a hangar for arms drill, and any mistakes resulted in dismissal from the squad until only 24 were left.
We had no idea what was happening until we were told that we would be lining the route for the state funeral.
Feeding so many thousands of troops was such a logistical problem that the only way they could give us breakfast was at 11pm the night before. Terence Aston
SIR – The funeral of Sir Winston Churchill was the last such occasion at which a Naval gun carriage party, under the command of the captain of the Gunnery School, was required.
I cannot personally vouch for this, as I was serving on HMS Victorious in the Far East Fleet, though I had it on very good authority. Competition to be chosen was intense among the ship’s company of HMS Excellent on Whale Island, and many gunnery instructors – usually chief or petty officers – requested permission to be “disrated” to acting petty officer for one day in order to resume “square rig” and be part of the gun crew.
It was both a mark of respect and a great tribute to Sir Winston, under whose leadership many such senior rates had begun their service in the Royal Navy.
William Nicol Gent
SIR – I had been keeping bees for more than 30 years, and had three healthy colonies, when my wife sadly died.
I did not think of telling the bees (Letters, September 15), but when I next looked the hives were empty. The same thing happened to a friend with bees whose husband died.
SIR – On Thursday my husband and I made our very first Dubonnet cocktail in memory of our beloved Queen Elizabeth.
It is an amazingly uplifting drink, though perhaps just a small part of her huge legacy to us all.
SIR – I look forward to King Charles’s leaky pen (report, September 14) appearing in an auction room, raising thousands of pounds for his charities. Simon Davie