image caption: Gurmukh Singh

Queen Elizabeth II: Lifetime of Dedication to Duty

  • From a Sikh perspective Queen Elizabeth II personified dharam nibhauna (ਧਰਮ ਨਿਭਾਉਣਾ).

On her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth of York, later Queen Elizabeth II, in her address to the nation said: I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

On 5 February 1952, the Princess and her husband, Prince Philip, were at the Treetops Hotel about two hours drive from Nairobi. According to their bodyguard, Jim Corbett, it was the first time a young girl had ascended to the treetops as a princess and climbed down the next day []]6th February 1952] as a queen!

For 70 years as the longest reigning British monarch, she did serve the nation with exemplary dedication. She was a constant source of reference for the establishment and touched the hearts of millions of people around the world.

We are seeing much on our TV screens about the life of the Queen as the nation mourns her demise on 8 September 2022. The pageantry, brings out the history and heritage symbolic of British values and the life of the nation. It shows why United Kingdom is a great country to live in.

We have much to learn from the long life and reign of the Queen. From the Sikh perspective, she lived a disciplined life which accorded with the Sikh concept of dharam nebhauna (ਧਰਮ ਨਿਭਾਉਣਾ). She showed a sense of responsibility towards her family, the diverse communities and countries she headed. She represented stability in a world which is moving away from dharam towards undisciplined self-centred chaos.

On Tuesday 6 September, we saw the frail but smiling Queen at Balmoral in Scotland walking unaided except for a walking stick and greeting the two Prime Ministers in turn &ndash Borris Johnson, the departing PM and Lizz Truss as the next PM. It was a feat of spiritual will and her sense of duty overcoming her physical discomfort. For her, duty came first. Who would have thought that two days later she would be with us no more. Hers was a job for life as she had said when she took on job of being the Queen of millions around the world. We do wish our political leaders could show the same sense of duty.

There is much public discussion about the Queens personal qualities and her role as a constitutional monarch. Those not familiar with the Queens daily routine may not realise that right up to the end, at the age of 96 years, she was working full time when most retire at the age of 65. She was a patron of over 600 charities, public bodies and military associations.

She saw much change during her reign and was not slow to embrace change herself. She trained as a mechanic and driver during World War II. She was the first monarch to speak on TV and to send an e-mail. She was always curious and was willing to learn by asking question. (that was my personal experience when receiving an award some years ago). She met people of all races and backgrounds warmly with a smile.

Our farewell to our beloved Queen Elizabeth II as we welcome King Charles III. Long Live the King!

Gurmukh Singh OBE