By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
She graced the cover of Time Magazine in April 1929, as a little girl her face seems to manifest the future of the intense role she would one day hold. Her red locks are styled in an upward flip giving a hint of what appears to be hair with natural curl.
Her one little hand is poised on her check with her finger pointing up. Her other little hand is pointing to the side in the same direction that her eyes are looking. She not only bears the look of her future, she bears the look of the intense upheaval the world will experience during her lifetime.
Though her three-year-old photo seems to foreshadow her future, she was not in line to be a queen, but it was her destiny.
She chose to give her life in service of her country. Her uncle had abdicated his position as King and her father, King George VI, was thrust into the all-consuming position with little training for his role. From her father’s coronation forward, Princess Elizabeth began her training to one day serve as queen.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” Princess Elizabeth declared on her 21st birthday. And so, she did.
She had made her first public speech to the children of England when she was just 14 years old. She trained as a military mechanic and driver and served in her nation’s military.
Her father, King George VI died on February 6, 1952. From there forward she bore the title, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her formal coronation took place on June 2, 1953.
In choosing to serve her country as a monarch, she forfeited her freedom of speech and freedom to live without public intrusion. She would be subjected to following the customs and rules that history had written for her position and yet she would reign in contemporary times over a nation that was still recovering from World War II.
We in the United States were welcomed into her life via television newscasts as she married, brought children into the world, through her coronation and then into the many divisions, wars and cultural upheavals that have occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The world watched as her eldest son Prince Charles, who is now His Majesty King Charles III, married. We watched in horror and shock when whom we had come to love as Princess Diana lost her life in an automobile accident.
Queen Elizabeth II navigated through the tabloid scandals of that period and guarded her grandsons as best she could from the media.
She spoke to her people as a grandmother and as their Queen, conveying her admiration for Diana and her love of her grandsons. Again, we were invited via television to watch as she spoke.
When her mother — who was fondly termed Queen Mother — died, we mourned with her.
We watched as her grandsons married and brought children into the world.
We were invited to listen as she spoke to her people during the pandemic crisis.
Her beloved husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died April 8, 2021. His funeral was held in the era of strict social distancing rules with facial coverings worn by all in attendance.
She did not stop serving her nation. She continued to meet with world leaders.
She served her nation as she stripped her own son of his royal title and required that he face his criminal charges as a private citizen.
We gasped as we learned she had contracted Covid.
We celebrated her Platinum Jubilee via internet and television.
Serving her nation on September 6, 2022, as head of state, she made the official appointment of Liz Truss as Prime Minister of England.
Just more than 48 hours later, while the sun was rising on our continent, we learned Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was under medical supervision; we waited. Then we learned she passed from her physical life into her eternal journey. The longest reigning monarch in British history had died.
Queen Elizabeth II met more world leaders her reign covered more Prime Ministers than any other Monarch of the United Kingdom.
More than two-thirds of her life was lived as queen.
There will be 10 days of national mourning with a royal funeral anticipated to be held by September 17. We will be watching from our cellular phones, which did not exist at her birth, from our computer screens, another convention that did not exist at her birth and from our televisions, still another technological marvel that was not available when she was born.
BBC made the announcement of her passing with somberness and respect and as the anchorman faded off camera, a profile photo of Queen Elizabeth II in full regal apparel appeared on the screen with a familiar melody accompanying the honoring of her passing.
The melody playing was the National Anthem for Britain, “God Save the Queen,” which came to be popular for Britons around 1744. The melody is taken from Symphony No. 3 by Muzio Cleminti. Since its selection as Brittan’s national anthem, the song shifts from queen to king, depending on who is holding the title.
This same melody is used for a song penned in 1831 by an American Seminary student, “My Country Tis of Thee”, a patriotic song that extols the values of America’s freedom and liberty.
While the celebration of life for Queen Elizabeth II and the coming coronation of King Charles III takes place, our American ears will be listening to a familiar tune. A tune that as children we believed originated from our own nation. Yet the melody is from the nation from which our founding fathers rebelled and so many gave their lives so that our nation could be born.
Though we are a sovereign nation with a history, culture and future that has been carved out and will continue to be etched out by our people and our leaders, we are forever and always will be attached to the nation from which we were born.
We in America do not fully understand the purpose of a monarchy. After all, America was birthed to rid ourselves of monarchy rule.
We are not obliged to follow the code of royalty, yet many of us will choose to honor the passing of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a beloved woman, leader, wife, mother, grandmother, auntie, great-grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, daughter, granddaughter, and she rode out her life, living her choice to serve her people.