Loss of a great monarch

Loss of a great monarch

With the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the world has lost a great monarch who over the past seven decades placed duty and public interest before herself.

The media in the UK and around the world noted that her passing on Sept 8 has brought unity to the country. People from several generations lined up on the street to pay respects to their beloved queen as her coffin was taken from Balmoral castle, to Holyrood in Edinburgh, London's Buckingham Palace, Westminster Hall and then the Queen's Windsor Castle home, where she will be interred alongside Prince Philip. The state funeral is today (Bangkok time).

The outpouring of public love for her and the royal family is easy to understand. In her seven decades on the throne, the queen performed her duties flawlessly. With that, she brought dignity to the nation.

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair said in his public address: "We have lost not just our monarch but the matriarch of our nation, the figure who more than any other brought our country together, kept us in touch with our better nature, personified everything which makes us proud to be British."

The queen worked hard until the last days of her life. Photos of her receiving new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral castle just few days before the queen died testifies to her determination to put duty first.

In the photos, widely shared by Thai netizens, the queen looked frail but was all smiles and in good spirits. Public sympathy surged after some people noticed a big purple mark on the back of her right hand, which suggested she had been through medical treatment. During her long reign, the monarchy went through its fair share of ups and downs, and even suffered declines in popularity, especially after high-profile scandals, including then Prince Charles' extramarital affairs that resulted in divorce from his glamorous wife Diana in 1996.

With an openness to public criticism, and an ability to adapt, she and the institution regained popularity. One noticeable change, which demonstrated how much importance the queen and royal family attached to public feeling after Diana's death in 1997, was her appearance, with Prince Philip by her side, on a London street after being criticised for what was perceived as a cold response.

Another example of her ability to heed public concerns and adapt to change were her concessions on the tax issue, following fierce debate and anger over the huge budget approved for repairs of Windsor Castle after a 1992 fire. That prompted what many regard as one of her best speeches.

"There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution -- city, monarchy, whatever -- should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don't," she said.

One day after her death, Thai scholar Sulak Sivaraksa eulogised the queen for her commitment as a constitutional monarch who strictly adhered to the UK supreme law. May the queen rest in peace.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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