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Queen of service, queen of the world


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Gonzalo Villalta Puig

Full Professor of International Public Law of the University of Navarra

"The life of Elizabeth II gave continuity to the Monarchy, linking her reign in the collective imagination with the imperial splendor of her great-great-grandmother Victoria. The affection and respect that this continuity entailed overruled any republican or secessionist cause both in the United Kingdom and in her overseas kingdoms. Her death opens the dam to everything she would never have wanted to live and does not come at a good time for a country that fails to recover from the undeclared 'civil war' that Brexit meant, which brought populism and its lies to public life."

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Elizabeth II, died on Thursday, September 8. Yesterday, her firstborn, who will reign as Charles III, was proclaimed King at St. James's Palace, erected in the time of Henry VIII and home of the Accession committee which serves as framework hosting the accession of British monarchs to the throne. Elizabeth died at the age of 96, in the same year of the Diamond Jubilee commemorating her 70 years on the throne, the longest reign of the British Crown. With the end of her reign ends the second Elizabethan era of England, an era that began a few years after the end of World War II coinciding with the withdrawal of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of the country and that ends with the beginning of the mandate of Liz Truss -appointed by herself last Tuesday- in the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the most important war that the European continent has experienced since the World War that she herself also saw conclude.  

Elizabeth II, who will go down in history as 'Elizabeth the Great', was an exemplary monarch, model moral perhaps unattainable of any reigning crown. Her exemplarity lay in a very strong Christian conviction not of her right but of her divine duty, as she assumed since she received the anointing at her coronation in 1953 at the age of 27. From her Anglican tradition - more Catholic than Protestant - the Faith she professed and defended instilled in her the importance of service from humility. That vocation of service - constant and plenary session of the Executive Council in her ethics of work- allowed her to reign with dignity, decency, grace and elegance. He modeled his person on his father, George VI, king unexpectedly by the abdication of his brother Edward VIII, who opted for a relationship with an American divorcee to the dynastic obligation. Her father reigned with closeness without evading the danger of the Nazi bombings, family man and devoted father, magnanimous sovereign, died prematurely at the age of 56 when his daughter was on honeymoon in Kenya.

Elizabeth did not hesitate, she came down from the top of the trees where her African accommodation was located to begin her reign, self-denial as a permanent premise. As constitutional Queen of fifteen states, her greatest achievement was the conversion of the British Empire into a Commonwealth of Nations, from Australia to Malta, 56 countries and 150 million subjects who recognized her as Queen, Queen of the world. She had few, if any, mistakes of state. She never took off her gloves - as I experienced firsthand when I was part of the entourage that welcomed her to the University of Hull - but she knew how to modernize from telematic audiences by 'Zoom' to performances with James Bond and Paddington Bear. At all times, he remained neutral and impartial, never allowing himself to fall prey to flattery or manipulation, silencing his opinion, his bias, his preference with a discipline that forced him into solitude in public. She found refuge in the intimacy of her marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who with his irony, not mischievous, but mischievous, gave relief from the formalism, pomp and circumstance traditional at the British Court.

At staff, she was a faithful wife and maternal mother, but perhaps due to an excess of affection, somewhat deluded from the institutionalist distance, she did not know how to manage the passions and extravagances of her children. It was precisely her children who brought shadows to her already luminous reign, from the initial rejection of the people's mourning at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, to the implicit defense of Andrew, Duke of York, in the face of accusations of various kinds.

Her hobbies as a good Englishwoman were horses and dogs. Her life gave continuity to the Monarchy, linking her reign in the collective imagination with the imperial splendor of the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria (a kinship she shared with our King Emeritus Juan Carlos). The affection and respect that this continuity entailed overruled any republican or secessionist cause in both the United Kingdom and its overseas kingdoms.
overseas kingdoms.

Her death opens the dam to all that she would never have wanted to live. It is likely that, in the not too distant future, many countries will leave the Commonwealth in protest against the narrative of a supposedly white, elitist and patriarchal imperialism, that Australia will become a republic as Scotland opts for independence from the union and that Northern Ireland will unite with the Republic of Ireland. If all this happens, England in the meantime will probably disintegrate into the diversity of its classes and identities while the black hole of the capital empties the countryside. Her son, the now King Charles III whose moral authority lacks his mother's constancy, does not seem likely to be able to contain that dam despite his pseudo-intellectual idealism in promoting urban and agrarian sustainability. The death of the Queen does not come at a good time for a country that is unable to recover from the undeclared 'civil war' that the process of leaving the European Union entailed. Brexit brought populism and its lies to public life.

Elizabeth II's last act of service came just 48 hours before her death when she ended the presidency of Boris Johnson's government - whose parliamentary maneuvers put the monarch in an awkward position never seen before - and her choice of Balmoral as her deathbed is a nod to Scotland and its union with England. Her last public visit was to inaugurate a hospice; her last public statement was signed, simply, "Her servant, Elizabeth R".