QUEEN ELIZABETH II ~1926-2022~
Winston Churchill knew “Lilibet” from infancy. On the occasion of Her Majesty’s State Funeral (the first state funeral since Churchill’s own) , we mourn her loss through his eyes.
Winston Churchill was fiercely protective of Queen Elizabeth, virtually from his first encounter with “Lilibet,” infant heir to the British crown, following her birth on April 21, 1926. Yet, he also expected greatness from her, mentored her early on in order to encourage that greatness, then deferred to her as his sovereign to the end of his life.
On the occasion of her Coronation in 1953, Churchill summed up the symbolic value of a Constitutional Monarch in a Parliamentary Democracy. “In our island, by trial and error and by perseverance across the centuries, we have found out a very good plan,” he pointed out. “Here it is: The Queen can do no wrong. Bad advisers can be changed as often as the people like to use their rights for that purpose. A great battle is won: crowds cheer The Queen. What goes wrong is carted away with the politicians responsible.”
When Churchill at last deigned to retire as Prime Minister in 1955, he designated Parliament’s Easter recess as the moment he would submit his resignation to the Queen, setting off discussions at Buckingham Palace about the possibility of honoring Winston Churchill with a dukedom.
Arriving at the palace on April 5, Churchill tendered his resignation to the nearly-29-year-old Queen Elizabeth. He was then surprised and quite touched by her offer to make him a Duke.
“You know, I very nearly accepted,” he told his private secretary John Colville immediately afterwards, with tears in his eyes. “I was so moved by her beauty and her charm and the kindness with which she made this offer . . . But finally I remembered that I must die in the House of Commons; I must die as I have been — Winston Churchill.”
Beauty. Charm. Kindness. No finer words sum up our loss at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on September 8, 2022. In the 21st Century leadership world that she has left behind, they are qualities in desperately short supply.