For more than seven decades, Queen Elizabeth was a commanding presence, a monarch wholly dedicated to the service of the British people, beloved by billions of people around the world, an enduring constant bridging the second half of the 20th Century with the first two decades of this millennium.
Her death on Thursday, peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, is one of those moments that everyone will recall for decades to come of where they were when our Elizabethan era came to an end.
For her family, this is indeed a moment of profound sadness, the loss of a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. For Britons, the vast majority of whom knew no other monarch, her passing too is a time of great sadness. And for some two billion people the world over who live in Commonwealth nations, her death is an historical milestone unparalleled in decades.
She was a constant in public life, a figure of humility — and humour — a monarch who reigned during a time of unprecedented change, upheaval and renewal. It is a reign that spanned 15 Prime Ministers and stretched from a time where the United Kingdom and its Empire were still coming to grips with the enduring effects of the emerging from the ruins of the Second World War and subsequently transformed into a brotherhood of Commonwealth nations.
She was deeply loved and is mourned deeply too, with grief being the painful price we pay for love.
This is a time too of transition, a nation that is led in its grief by King Charles III. The monarchy is a symbol of enduring stability and a constant in the sea of change.
Here in the UAE, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan extended condolences to the people of the UK, noting that “Her Majesty was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved and respected leader whose long reign was characterised by dignity, compassion and a tireless commitment to serving her country.”
These next days will be a time of official mourning, where the people of the UK and the Commonwealth will remember her generosity of spirit, her quiet leadership, her dignity and, above all, her unstinting service to her people.
Today, it is hard to imagine Britain without her — the constant and enduring symbol of state, a mother, the matriarch of a nation and a beloved figure for generations the world over.
“The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty the Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” King Charles said on Thursday night, adding that during this moment of change “my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”
This is a sad and historic moment for the Royal Family, for all Britons and those in the Commonwealth, mourning a woman of grace, presence, dignity and dedication.
Long she reigned; God save the Queen. Yes — and God save the King.