I was born 12 years after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, so, like so many of us, my whole life, until yesterday, has been lived during her reign. As the daughter of a deeply committed civil servant, who took his duties as an employee of the Crown (as every civil servant is) very seriously, I grew up understanding the important role of the monarch as head of state. My maternal grandparents, like so many, rented a newfangled television set and invited their neighbours around to watch the coronation. It’s hard to reach for anything other than the words that so many people are using: this feels like an ending of more than an remarkable and dutiful life: it feels like the end of an era. I am moved by the response of so many to the Queen’s death, and that response is such a powerful reminder of the way that she stood for so many different things to so many different people.
Last summer, we began thinking about what the Platinum Jubilee, and the Queen’s remarkable 70 year reign could mean to the children, families, educators and librarians we publish for, a process of reflection that led to the publication of Great Elizabethans: HM Queen Elizabeth II and 25 Amazing Britons from her Reign. We felt that that one defining aspect of Queen Elizabeth’s reignwas the extraordinary changes that she had witnessed and embraced. We thought about the move from Empire to Commonwealth; about profound and enriching changes in the population make-up of the UK; about deep changes in social mores impacting on, among others, women and the LGBTQIA+ community; and about changes in the visibility and accessibility of The Royal Family. The Queen, and her reign, linked so many changes and so many people together.
Today, I was reminded by Catherine Stokes, our Sales and Marketing Director, of the Queen’s resonant words on the death of her own mother:
“I hope that sadness will blend with a wider sense of thanksgiving, not just for her life but for the times in which she lived — a century for this country and the Commonwealth not without its trials and sorrows, but also one of extraordinary progress, full of examples of courage and service as well as fun and laughter. This is what my mother would have understood, because it was the warmth and affection of people everywhere which inspired her resolve, dedication and enthusiasm for life.”