The world waited in silent prayers as worrying news started circulating about the health of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch faithfully carrying out her formal duties from her private residence at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, having appointed the country’s new prime minister just two days ago.
By the time the world woke up the next morning, it found itself bereft of the beaming presence of an extraordinary leader and a mother-figure who captured the imagination of her nation and her admirers at home and around the globe as she edified the British Throne for an unprecedented seven decades.
A cosmic double rainbow arched over Windsor Castle to mark the passing of an epic era.
A deep sense of loss and pain was apparent as people started to throng around Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as elsewhere to pay their tributes to their beloved monarch who occupied a special place in their hearts. World leaders continued to cherish their own treasured moments and express their deep respect and admiration for the Queen’s exceptional grace, dignity, wisdom and leadership through the decades.
For a people and a country like Bhutan and the Bhutanese that deeply love and revere the sacred institution of Monarchy and our adored Monarchs, the passing away of the king or the queen of any nation in the world naturally causes pain and sorrow in obvious ways and in ways more subtle.
These sentiments become even more poignant when a queen of the stature and sway of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passes away at a rare 96 years of age with a record 70-year reign as the Head of State of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, the revered monarch of a country with which Bhutan and the Bhutanese people have a deep and special affinity.
Their Majesties the King and Queen of Bhutan paid royal tributes for the incredible life and leadership of Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II even as His Majesty the Fourth King led a special 1000 butter-lamp and prayer ceremony inside Trashichhodzong. The national flag flew at half-mast and a day of mourning was declared across the country with prayers and butter-lamps offered in all the twenty dzongkhags in honour of the much-admired late Queen of the United Kingdom.
Many Bhutanese citizens expressed their sadness and offered their prayers in their own heart-felt, personal ways.
The reign of Queen Elizabeth II is remarkable not only for the length of time that she was on the throne but for the integrity of personal life that she lived and the quality of leadership that she provided not only to her own country and her people but to leaders and peoples around the world.
At a time like the present when political instability and corrosive divisions threaten to tear societies and nations apart in many parts of the world, the wisdom of an old couplet from Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton’s play “Gorboduc” comes to mind:
“Within one land, one rule is best,
Divided reigns make divided hearts…”
The institution of enlightened monarchy can steady the ship of the state through the turbulence of party politics and internal strife. That explains why even as governments come and go, the non-political, all-embracing presence of the king or queen can be a great force of national cohesion and solidarity.
These sentiments have been echoed over and over again especially in moments of leadership-crisis.
We have witnessed in our own country the exceptional leadership of our great monarchs in times of unprecedented challenges as citizens see the institution of Monarchy as an abiding factor of stability and security both for the nation and the people. In our most trying moments, the monarch is our nation’s saviour.
The universal outpouring of love and respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II from ordinary people and world leaders whose lives have been touched in profound ways by the personal and public examples of the Queen are a tribute to a most remarkable individual as well as an iconic twelve hundred year old institution. Presiding over a multi-generation royal family as a deeply loved matriarch and symbolising the sovereign person-hood of the nation, Queen Elizabeth II was an embodiment of the finest spirit and character of the British nation.
Even as the bereaved members of the British Royal Family and the sorrow-struck people of the United Kingdom come to terms with the demise of an extraordinary leader and loving mother-figure to generations of her citizens, and beyond, not only by virtue of her royal birth and institutional props but by the strength of her infinite grace, edifying dignity, rare wisdom and sublime majesty, my family and I join our fellow-citizens in offering our prayers and support.
As the great British nation installs a new Monarch, may the reign of His Majesty King Charles III be as long, as glorious and as inspiring as that of his peerless mother Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the country achieve ever greater peace, prosperity and well-being as ‘this sceptred isle’ looks to the future with hope and confidence…
The United Kingdom and the world will miss the inspiring presence of a towering figure who embodied love for all and malice towards none. Let the life and deeds of Britain’s greatest monarch be a guide to a troubled world. The world-endearing smile is gone but the monumental legacy lives on.
May the sacred soul rest in peace in the virtuous company of her great ancestors in paradise…
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A humble tribute, by Thakur S Powdyel, former Minister of Education.