I’ve seen Queen Elizabeth of England referred to as a “traditional fixture” of the Christmas season, and I have no doubt of it. This woman has a spine of steel as she has survived the travails of a life in the spotlight and yet throughout it all, maintains a public visage of balance and calm. I admire her enormously.
She’s done it again this year, in both her Christmas message and her brief New Year’s Eve message.
Think about it. She is 95 years old and has been queen of her country since she was 25. If you were to detail the events of her life – personal and royal, as well as what has changed in the world at large for her country – it would make an almost unbelievable story.
I admit, each holiday season, I look forward to what the queen will do and say. I have followed her life through the years, just because it seems so impossible for one woman to have endured so many changes and yet seem to remain the same.
Usually, the press covers the royal family going to church on Christmas Day, but this year it was different because of COVID. In fact, the queen and Prince Philip have been isolated at Windsor Castle for most of the year. However, she did her annual Christmas duty to the nation and the Commonwealth with her traditional televised speech.
Elizabeth wrote it herself, as she always does, and the main theme was one of hope and praise of the people whose “indomitable spirit” has risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the pandemic. She did not ignore the pain the virus has caused so many but expressed hope for a return to normality.
“We continue to be inspired by the kindness of strangers and draw comfort that, even on the darkest nights, there is hope in the new dawn.”
She spoke of this being a time of sadness for so many who mourn the loss of people “dear to them, and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them, you are not alone, and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers.”
These kinds of sentiments are so unusual today, coming from a person of high political standing – compare her words to anything any of our politicians have to say to their constituents at this holiday season.
In fact, except for the New Year’s comments of President Trump, virtually none of our elected officials and scientists have said anything of a positive note to Americans about the holiday. Most of what we get is gloom and doom and threats that the worst is yet to come.
What is also refreshing is that Queen Elizabeth is open and clear to let religious sentiment come through in her words, which reflect her Christian faith.
“Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all, regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that each one of us is special and equal in the eyes of God.”
The queen praised the many volunteers who have worked so hard to deal with the challenges. “… I’m so proud and moved by the quite indomitable spirit. To our young people in particular, I say thank you for the parts you have played.”
She praised the medical pioneers who are working to advance science and fighting the virus, saying, “We own them a debt of gratitude.”
“Let the light of Christmas, the spirit of selflessness, love and, above all, hope guide us in the times ahead. It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.”
Queen Elizabeth did it again in her short New Year’s Eve message to the people. It was more optimism and the hope that “better days” are ahead for the British people:
“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.”
She concluded, “Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.”
The queen’s use of the line, “We will meet again” brings back memories of the famed World War II song made famous by Vera Lynn – “We’ll Meet Again, Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When.” It’s a reference that draws Queen Elizabeth even closer to her people. She went through war and peace with them, and now the virus. She is one of them, and they know it and love her for it.
Queen Elizabeth will be 96 in April. Her husband, Prince Philip, is 100 – his next birthday is in June. I wish them the happiest of birthdays, a happy anniversary and good health. The world needs them, and their presence shows us that it is possible to live in the public eye, deal with family problems and still maintain class.
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