Unless you live under a rock, we're guessing virtually all of our readers will have learned that Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain and Canada, sadly passed away last week at the age of 96.
For 70 years – 45 per cent of our country's existence – she was a presence in Canadians' lives, as the Head of State for our country as well as a fixture on our currency. Nothing in Canada passed in government or through our legal system during her reign without reference to her name and title.
None of us can pretend to understand the concept of royalty, and, truthfully, not many Canadians can personally relate to a position that accords certain individuals a higher status in society merely by virtue of their birth instead of the merits of their own achievements.
That being said, Queen Elizabeth II was a person of great merit in her own right. She modernized the monarchy to make it more accessible to regular citizens, served dutifully and publicly for seven decades, and reigned over an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity coming out of the Second World War. She faced social and economic challenges with grace and good humour, and she managed to rise above divisive politics to be a symbol of stability, tradition, duty and commitment to the higher ideals of nationhood.
While the merits of having a monarchy in Canada can (and should) be debated, there are probably few in our nation who were not sad to see our longest-serving Queen pass.
On the occasion of her Silver Jubilee in 1977, Her Majesty Queen Elizabath II said, "When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people and I asked for God's help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days [when] I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor retract one word of it."
Until the end, Her Majesty remained true to that vow, and every Canadian should applaud her unerring service to the office she held.