The Queenly queen – My first awareness of her was when I peered into the picture that captured the historic moment. Though she was not present at the historic event, a certain princess Alexandria represented her.
The moment when the British union jack was lowered, and the Nigerian flag was hoisted, as a symbol of the Nigerian nation’s independence from many decades of British rule.
Before then, she had reigned from 1st October 1960 to 1963, taking a title of the Queen of Nigeria. On 1st October 1963, the British monarchy was abolished, along with the reign of The Queen, and Nigeria adopted a Nigerian president as head of state.
Despite this abolishment, the image of The Queen loomed large, like an unseen force. It seemed like everything in the world, was all about the queen. Many times about the queen.
There are many queens, citizens of royal kingdoms spread around the world. But when the phrase, The Queen, is used, it refers to one queen alone – Queen Elizabeth II of England.
Bringing glamour into the office of the British royalty. A queen has not seen that much of exposure. A queen has hardly been bedecked with such poise, such dignity, such finesse. The type that can make one hunger to hurry into the shoes of royalty.
She wore a gait that was befitting of her royal status, adorned in eye-popping hats matching every outfit she wore, like a signature look. And in those portraits she could be seen, cuddling one of her many Siamese and Burmese cats. The queen was often arrayed in a spectrum of bright colours, that burned the human eyes with their brilliance.
Still striding with the poise of royalty that she was.
Born, on 21st April 1926, in Mayfair, London, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York(later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)she became heir presumptive when her father ascended the throne of England in 1936.
The then Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark in the year 1947. There were so scandals attached to her marriage to this foreign prince. They seemed to be very much in love and had four children – Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
When her father died in February 1952, Princess Elizabeth who was twenty-five years old, became Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries of The United Kingdom – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon(now called Sri Lanka) and Head of the Commonwealth.
Philip and Elizabeth moved into Buckingham Palace and the phrase, House of Windsor, remained the name of the British royal house. She took the title of Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to Philip may have been scandal-free, but that was not the same for her offspring.
A lot more stories were told of The Queen. Especially in the 90s era. Stories made the round of her opposition when Charles wanted to marry Camilla, who was branded as someone unfit for that title. Some suggested that it was because Camilla was not a virgin, and had sowed ‘wild oats’ in the gardens of several men. It was said that The Queen had made sure the wedding did not take place.
She was happy, as any mother should be, when her first son and first child, Charles, the heir apparent got married on 29th July 1981, to twenty-year old Lady Diana Spenser who became the Princess of Wales, in St Paul’s Cathedral, to the viewing pleasure of over 750 million people.
A royal wedding whose fame went abroad practically all the nations of the world. The regal Queen Elizabeth must have waited with bated breath to be a grandmother. She sure rejoiced to see this wish come true, when Charles and Lady Diana welcomed their sons, William and Harry.
But the sound of rejoicing dwindled to a dirge, when Lady Diana, died on 31st August 1997, in a car crash in Paris. Her demise was the saddest event to befall the royal family at that time. From a royal wedding to a royal burial.
A permanent memorial, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain was opened by The Queen, in Hyde Park on 6th July 2004. Followed by a statue in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, unveiled by her sons, William and Harry, on 1st July 2021.
The queen drew criticism for what many saw as her prominent role in destroying her son’s happiness by denying him the desire to marry the love of his life. Others feel Princess Diana may have been alive if not for The Queen’s interference in the choice of her daughter-in-law. Seemed like the typical mother-in-law versus daughter-in-law scenario playing out.
Queen Elizabeth later accepted Prince Charles’s choice and he married Camilla. The Queen announced in February of 2022 that Charles will inherit the throne at her death, while Camilla will be known as Queen Consort – a name of the wife or companion of a reigning monarch. One cannot really judge if that was a subtle acceptance of her.
Maybe it was the tragic twist to Diana’s reign that made The Queen accept the other non-royals, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s entrance into the Royal House of Windsor, which had remained inhabited by blue-blood mortals.
Queen Elizabeth did not only attract criticism in the town of England. Back in Africa, accusations tailed her reign as the Queen of Nigeria. Some people accuse her of aiding the Nigerian Civil War that destroyed so many lives.
A pained Igbo lady, Professor Uju Anya, displayed her disdain for The Queen when she stated on Twitter that the British Government, supervised by Queen Elizabeth II funded the massacre of three million Igbo people during the Civil War.
Whether this is a true statement still remains to be seen, but it has cast a dark cloud on the brilliance of the regal Queen Elizabeth.
With all these scandals rocking the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it seemed like she lost a bit of her queenly gait – that poise that bestows on her the title of royalty. But it does not take away the many milestones she reached.
Her reign of 70 years and 214 days, is recorded as the longest of any British monarch and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history, the second longest reigning sovereign in world history, behind only Louis XIV of France.
This reign came to an end on 8th September, 2022, shortly after she celebrated the platinum jubilee of her reign in February. Before then, she had celebrated her silver, golden, and diamond jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012.
Queen Elizabeth II lived to see the appointment of 15 prime ministers, with the latest, Liz Truss, commissioned just weeks before her demise, and 14 American presidents in a row.
On 8th September 2022, the queen took a break from earthly pursuits and bowed to the way of all mortals. Her beloved Philip died in April of 2021 and it seemed like she was hurrying to reunite with him. Lovers united forever.
The Queenly Queen has taken her final stride, done her last pose, worn the last of her colourful hats, done the last stroking of her beloved cats. She now lies supine, ears deaf to the voices of the British aristocratic system, unmindful of any accolades thrown in her direction.
As she is laid to eternal rest today, 19th September 2022, the world will not forget in a hurry that regal queen, steeped in majestic splendour who bestrode the grounds of Buckingham Palace like a Colossus. The iron lady of Windsor castle and leader-royal of the Windsor wives.
The Queenly Queen will not lose her poise.
© Ify Omeni – The Tale Weaver