Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: the pride in who we are "defines our present and our future"

By Emma McClelland and Olivia Vicol - 09 September 2022

On Thursday 8th September, Queen Elizabeth II passed away, surrounded by family, at Balmoral. As Britain's longest-serving monarch, she provided a connection to the country's past and an anchor to the present, representing a sense of shared identity and commonality. 

The Queen's death has brought a pervasive sense of unease. Thousands of people feel a personal connection with Elizabeth II. She has been on the throne for over seven decades, since the tender age of 25, presiding over periods of huge change, including the independence of former imperial territories and the creation of the Commonwealth. 

For most of the population, she has been a consistent presence - a steady hand during times of turbulence, and an example of the dogged yet quiet determination we see so much of across Britain. As diverse (and often divergent) as our communities may be, our shared sense of 'digging in' and doing our best is a common thread. 

Unanswered questions underscore many people's grief. Who is our anchor now? What is there to put our faith in? Where is the country heading? The answer to those questions, we believe, can be found in our communities. Within them there is great diversity and civic spirit. And within them, we can each find our anchor. By bringing communities together - including migrant communities - we can find new ways of expressing shared British identity. 

There is a lot to be proud of, with so many examples of people coming together to help one another. From the Covid-19 Mutual Aid Local Groups set up to support vulnerable people during the pandemic to the groundswell of support for Ukrainian refugees, community is key, and there is much within it for us to connect to and take comfort in. 

Perhaps, by better understanding, engaging with and supporting communities across Britain, we can find and foster the sense of togetherness and security so many people saw and valued in HRH the Queen. In her own words: "The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future."

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