She was The Queen, our queen, my queen. And I will miss her

About halfway through my run, I looped past the Scout Hut on the cut through via the village hall and pre-school nursery. It was quiet and shaded under tall pines. Following the path back to the main road I stopped underneath the village hall gateway arch. It was still decorated with red, white and blue knitted baubles, a remnant from the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, but next to it, in the corner, the flagpole stood with the Union Flag at half mast.

It hadn't seemed that long ago when we were out, happy, and celebrating the longest reigning monarch that the United Kingdom had known. And now, she was gone.

There are unusual and uncomfortable feelings to understand. A mix of sadness and loss. It's odd because like most people I have never actually spoken to, or met the Queen face to face. 

I did see her close up one time though. I was in my teens. A school mate and I had volunteered to collect for charity at the South of England show. A three day event of farming, rural life, livestock shows and horses. As part of the deal, if you volunteered to help collect money for charity, you were given free tickets to spend the rest of your day enjoying everything. Not only that, but the tickets given gave you access to ALL areas, even the members only pavilions where the VIP's gathered.

After rattling tins for a few hours we were free. We snooped about, ate burgers, drank cider and then came to one of the grander buildings. With supreme confidence, we waved our passes at the stewards on the door and were in. I think we were on the lookout for freebies, food, drink, anything. But as we mooched about, we noticed quite a few people talking and chatting. Feeling a bit out of our depth we stood towards the back of the room to see what was going on. And then we realised, down the front, was a slightly small, smiling, middle aged lady. Hat, glasses, gloves... "It's the Queen!" we mouthed to each other. And only a few yards away.

We felt out of our depth, and subtly extricated ourselves from the room, fearing we'd be thrown out, but it still makes me smile today, that yes, I did get to see The Queen.

Anyway, I digress. Feelings, yes that is what I was talking about.

I feel a sense of real sadness that The Queen has died. More-so than I thought I would. I was working from home on the day, so noticed the news channels mentioning that doctors were concerned for her health. That statement didn't sink in. But then we were told that the family were heading to Balmoral and I did think "OK, this is serious".

When they announced her death, I realised that I had only ever know her as the monarch. And now that piece of certainty had gone. Just like many of the other things that seemed permanent and embedded, but are now shifting and changing. Leaving the EU, Covid-enforced lockdowns stopping gathering, war in Europe, affordable energy, affordable food, living wages, low inflation, the list goes on. So overall, like many others, with this final big change, I've been feeling a deep sense of loss.

Was the Queen perfect? No. Are there things that the royal family did, or still do that I disagree with? Yes. Do some of the privileges and pedestals stand on top of historical wrongs? Yes.

But here's the thing for me. And here's why I'm thankful for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Separate the institution from the human. She took a role that she was never expected to have and carried it out as a form of duty to her people. She took her position very seriously as a servant of the United Kingdom. She gave our country a focus and a stability through bad times. She helped to create a sense of identity for many of the British people. She never complained, she always smiled. She brought happiness and joy to millions of people. She was a devoted mother and wife.  She was a person of faith, who also respected and valued other faiths. She was stoic. In short, she lived a good life.

She was The Queen, our queen, my queen. And I will miss her.

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