Tribute to an undying legacy | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Tribute to an undying legacy

QUEEN Elizabeth-II was a towering figure in global affairs whose life spanned an era of change across the world, not just in the United Kingdom.

— Mary Robinson (Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland).

When we talk of an imperial or majestic legacy of England, the name of Queen Elizabeth-11 automatically comes in our mind as Her Majesty did play a mega role beyond the traditional terms practiced by the British Crown.

She was not merely a symbol of British imperialism-cum-aristocracy, but also an aplomb of universal personification that she earned as a Queen whom life demanded a greater role to perform.

Ostensibly, Queen Elizabeth II was a much-loved figure in the United Kingdom and across the world.

She passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at age 96 on September 8, 2022, after having recently marked 70 years on the throne.

Flags were lowered to half-staff around the world – including at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Queen’s “empathy and ability to connect with every passing generation, while remaining rooted in the tradition that truly mattered to her, was an example of true leadership”.

And unquestionably, most Britons alive today have never known a ruler other than Queen Elizabeth-II.

Thus, Queen Elizabeth’s death—announced by the palace on 8 September 2022—rocked the country.

Historically put, before assuming the throne as Britain’s longest reigning monarch after her father, King George VI, died in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II’s existence abounded with regal adventure and excitement.

From first crossing paths with the love of her life, Prince Philip — who died at 99 in April 2021 — at age 8 to learning how to drive at 18 while serving in World War II and, thus, becoming the only citizen of the UK who was legally permitted to operate a vehicle without a driver’s license, the majestic nonagenarian enjoyed a drink (or two) while living the high life.

She was also the most widely travelled head of state in the world, making her one of the most influential figures in modern history.

As for her role as the head of the British Government, it fairly appears that by some iota of convention, the British Monarch does not vote or stand for election, nonetheless, he does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the government of the UK.

“The formal phrase ‘Crown in Parliament’ is used to describe the British legislature, which consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons’’.

His or Her Majesty duties include —opening each new session of Parliament, granting Royal Assent to legislation— and approving Orders and Proclamations through the Privy Council.

In the same vein, Her Majesty had a special relationship with the British Prime Minister, retaining the right to appoint and also meeting with him or her on a regular basis.

Thus the British government of the day ruled in her name from Westminster, but it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to even vote.

Needless to say, her seven decades of rule were ushered in by many major events and milestones in the United Kingdom and around the world.

Some of the historic moments during Queen Elizabeth’s reign include six major wars (including World War II), the decolonization of Africa, the moon landing, the formation of the European Union, the return of Hong Kong to China, the introduction of the internet (and all the life-changing technology that came from it), the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that’s far from an exhaustive list of the history —Elizabeth witnessed. Moreover, the Queen had a deep concern for uplifting the role of the United Nations.

While addressing the UNGA in July 2010, she said, ’in my lifetime, the United Nations has moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good.

That of itself has been a single achievement. But we are not gathered here to reminisce.

In tomorrow’s world, we must all work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations’’

The truth is that Elizabeth made her role as Head of the Commonwealth a priority throughout her reign, attending almost every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and travelling extensively throughout the Commonwealth.

Today, the Commonwealth comprises 54 independent nations, including 14 Commonwealth Realms, such as Canada, where the Queen remained the head of state.

In 2018, Commonwealth leaders agreed that the Queen’s eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, will be the next Head of the Commonwealth.

The people of Pakistan reserve the nostalgic memories of her visit in 1961 and 1997 respectively.

The former US President Barack Obama said, “The Queen had captivated the world with a reign defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic.

Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease and how she brought her considerable humour and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance’’.

On the eve of her funeral ceremony on 19 September almost 2000 guests were invited—including community volunteers and those who made extraordinary contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with other emergency services workers.

—except the leaders, those from Russia, Belarus and Myanmar because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, accompanied by a lack of full diplomatic relations with the UK.

“Our thoughts are with the royal family and all those who mourn Queen Elizabeth-II in the UK and worldwide,” tweeted European Council President Charles Michel.

“Once called Elizabeth the Steadfast, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment.

” When we do evaluate the legacy that Queen Elizabeth-II leaves behind, we do realise that she has been an epitome of grace, commitment and humanism.

Not only the British community, but also the Commonwealth community at large will always miss the services rendered by the Queen.

Her legacy will remain a leitmotif for those committed to building bridges in the pursuit of progress, peace and human dignity.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.

 

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