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Queen Elizabeth II: A great oak has fallen from the landscape of our lives

The vast majority of people in the UK and its commonwealth have known just one Monarch. Elizabeth II has been a fixed point in the life of many nations and millions of people around the world.

Queen Elizabeth II

For some, leadership is sought but for others its thrust upon them by the way the cards fall in this great game of chance that is life.

Born the oldest daughter of the Duke of York, Elizabeth would never have expected to become Queen. Her life was destined to be that of a minor Royal, a country woman set to enjoy life with her horses and dogs and perhaps this is the life she would have craved.

But fate played its hand, her uncle’s abdication in 1936, followed by the death of her father in 1952, led to the longest reign in our history.

Queen Elizabeth II died the oldest monarch, who for 70 years watched the countries over which she reigned and the world change almost out of recognition.

She was not a highly educated woman but took on her duties with diligence and built an enviable set of skills. What she lacked in education, she made up for by observation and hard work.

Just two days before she died, Elizabeth asked Liz Truss to become her fifteenth Prime Minister. Her long period as head of state has brought that vital commodity of experience.

The Queen has seen Empire transformed into a Commonwealth of nations that came together just weeks ago in Birmingham for the spectacular games.

Her task has been to unify, to get on with people of widely disparate opinions and cultures.

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As monarch, she has in many ways led a blessed life, never having to worry about the issues that concern the rest of us like paying bills. The best of medical care has always been at hand.

But there is another side to the coin. Having to dress up and be pleasant at endless garden parties and other such functions requires inestimable patience and discipline.

For Elizabeth the need for diplomacy and neutrality must have been a trial. Never allowed to have an opinion, or at least never able to voice that opinion, she has demonstrated extraordinary self-control.

Like so many families there has been a share of ups and downs, highs and lows. She learned better than most the joy and trials that children and grandchildren can bring.

There will be many people both monarchist and not, that feel huge admiration for so many years of service. Even those who have little enthusiasm for the institution have great admiration for the woman.

Her life has been one of sacrifice and so that of her bellowed late husband Philip who gave up a promising naval career for a life constantly one step behind his wife.

Elizabeth had to adapt to a massively abnormal life as a young women. She has done it well and has worked hard to adapt the institution of monarchy to an ever changing world.

This requires the leadership, people skills, discipline and down right hard slog that would challenge any business leader in his or her prime, never mind into their 90’s.

How successful she has been only time will tell.

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Adapting young is tough but to have to do it well into your eighth decade is a huge ask, but this is what faces King Charles III. Many people have to show patience but 73 years is a long time to have to wait for a job in which the vacancy only comes after the death of your mother. Habits and behaviours become part of our DNA and yet Charles will have to make changes at a time of life when to do so, will be incredibly difficult. It is a challenge that in its own way is just a big as that faced by his mother when she became Queen all those long years ago. His reign, at least compared with Elizabeth, will inevitably be relatively short but it will probably determine the future of an institution that his mother worked so hard to keep relevant.

One thing is for sure, he has a hard act to follow and for all of us, life will never be quite the same again.

RIP Your Majesty.