Death of 'Queen Mum' marks the end of an era
The Queen Mother -- "Queen Mum" to most Britons -- is dead at 101, but it will be a very long time before the world forgets this glorious lady.
As the Times of London noted in its obituary:
"Certainly it was a tribute to her person that while the popularity of lesser royals ebbed and flowed, hers seemed constant. Her role always as consort but never monarch had given her a detachment from any constitutional entanglements. There was also a genuine public admiration of the behaviour of a Queen who, having been widowed at a relatively young age, had not, as she might well have done, retired into pampered seclusion, but had continued to make a positive and colourful contribution to public life. Above all, she gave the impression always of making herself available to people and of placing herself and her time at their disposal."
Her love for her people and her country was sealed in the adversity of Britain's darkest days, when Adolf Hilter unleashed the Blitz against London during World War II. Her husband, King George VI, who ascended to the throne after his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson, and others urged the queen to seek safety in Canada. But, she remained steadfast in her determination to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her countrymen.
The presence of the king and queen among ordinary Britons whose lives had been reduced to rubble was more than symbolic. It signified that the monarchy belonged to the people.
Gusto: In the words of the Times: "It was not in her nature to behave as though her privileged position was a crushing burden. By temperament an enjoyer of life, she entered into everything she did with gusto, and never forgot what she owed to people whose lives were less comfortable, pleasant and interesting than her own."
The strength of her character was put the test numerous times during her long and extraordinary life, and she passed with flying colors. The death of King George VI confronted her with another major challenge in her life, that of guiding her daughter, Elizabeth, to the throne.
As Prince Charles, who is expected to succeed Queen Elizabeth II, said of his grandmother: "Above all, she understood the British character and her heart belonged to this ancient land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants, whom she served with panache, style and unswerving dignity for nearly 80 years."
The prince echoed the sentiments of people around the world when he added, "Her departure has left an irreplaceable chasm in countless lives but, thank God, we are all the richer for the sheer joy of her presence and everything she stood for."