It is a day many thought would never come. A passing of the torch. The end of an era. Queen Elizabeth II has died. Like so many others, we at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge will mourn her passing. But far more than that, we will celebrate her life.
Long May She Reign
Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years. Which means that very, very few of us can even remember a time before her reign began. For all this time she has been there. A constant in our lives. An Institution. Just as water is wet, England has a Queen. So it will probably come as a surprise to many just how rare and exceptional the reign of Queen Elizabeth II truly was.
For most of the past thousand years England has had a reigning monarch. There have been about 60 of them and all bar a handful have been men. And Elizabeth II has reigned the longest out of any of them. She reigned longer than some Royal dynasties combined.
That’s already exceptional, but consider the incredible changes that have occurred to the country during her reign. Take a 70 year period sometime in the Middle Ages and more likely than not you’ll find that nothing changed during it. Technology remains the same. Societal structure and cultural norms are identical.
Then compare the world of 1952 to 2022. It’s practically a different world. In that time man has walked on the Moon. We’ve gone from barely inventing the transistor to a global web of supercomputing power. From just about discovering the double helix structure of DNA to being able to create vaccines from scratch within a year.
For all of that time, the Queen has been a constant.
An Epic Reign
Her reign began with the death of Stalin. Survived the Cuban Missile Crisis. And witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. All by barely past half way. It began with the lives of Western women being similar to how they had always been. Through the introduction of the contraceptive pill. To a world of greater gender equality than ever before achieved in human history.
She has been served by 15 British Prime Ministers, starting with Sir Winston Churchill. And as Head of State to the Commonwealth that rises to over 170. Her reign spanned the administrations of 14 US presidents, 13 of whom she met personally. And she has likely been more popular than each and every one of them.
Yet it has always been her humanity that has shone the brightest. Few now remember that she made radio broadcasts of solidarity to the nation during WWII when still only a teenager. Or how she fell in love with a war hero. A man disliked by the country’s old guard due to his foreign ancestry. Yet how that love was so strong it overcame all opposition.
Few realise the transition she made away from “the Monarchy” to the now familiar “Royal Family”. Making a change from royals as unapproachable symbols of Empire to sympathetic individuals who were clearly just people. We just take it for granted – it’s the way things are. But like so many things we take for granted in our modern world, they are only that way because of the actions of real people like Queen Elizabeth II.
We at the Varsity Hotel join with the nation and the world in mourning her passing. But also celebrating her life.