Her Majesty represented, symbolised and guided our country through 70 years of change and did so with such faithful dedication.
A person of strong faith and unstinting commitment, Her Majesty promised to devote her life, however long or short, to our service. The vast majority of us have known no Sovereign but Her: respected and ever present from being a Princess in wartime service to reassuring the nation during Covid.
Queen Elizabeth met and was seen by millions, including on visits to Horsham in 1978 and 2003. So many have personal recollections. I feel hugely privileged to have met her through my former role as Her “Comptroller”. My abiding memories being her profound knowledge and interest; Her study in stark contrast to the grandeur of the Palace being down to earth and boasting an old electric heater and my terror when walking backwards at the end of an audience of tripping over one of the comfortably spreadeagled corgis.
I am very aware of the feelings of loss as we face uncertain times without Her. This applies to all generations: I have never visited a Primary School without being asked if I have ever met the Queen.
Her Majesty made clear in her Diamond Jubilee celebrations the pride and confidence she felt in her son the then Prince of Wales. The King (how strange that still sounds) takes on a heavy burden while mourning the loss of his mother. His speeches to the Commonwealth and to Parliament I think reflected so well our shared loss and his dedication.
One of my MP colleagues confessed that she and her husband were in floods of tears following the news: her six year old held her hand with the words “Don’t worry, the King will look after us now.” We expect much too much of too many but we know in King Charles we have a man of sensitivity, courage and compassion who has been thoughtful and effective on issues that needed a voice, on occasions decades ahead of others. No one knows better the extraordinary legacy He inherits and He and the Royal Family will I know be in our thoughts and prayers as we all mourn the loss of an extraordinary person.