13 June 2012

Nigeria: Long Live the Queen!


Her Imperial Majesty Elizabeth Alexandria Mary, better known as Queen Elizabeth II, has spent 60 years on the throne, thus becoming the second longest-reigning monarch in British history. She has only three years to break the record held by Queen Victoria. Blessed with a good heart as a leading light in global politics, the 86-year-old heads one of the largest communities in the globe: the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. She is the constitutional sovereign over 16 independent states known as the Commonwealth realms. Little wonder her coronation anniversary attracted four-day parties, outdoor concerts and fairs. The special declaration of a bank holiday underscores the importance of her institution, which though considered archaic has found a voice in the modern era.

The Diamond jubilee was indeed a "hurrah for a vanishing age" of monarchy. The ceremonies were a good piece of news relief from horror, tragedy and recession: people smiled at each other - a habit rare among the British.

Irrespective of divergent reactions to the institution of the monarchy, the visual message symbolises stability and continuity. Lord Mandelson said it was a "truly historic occasion" which allowed the British people to show their "pride and affection" for the Queen.

In spite of severe media criticisms and republican sentiments, both in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, the Queen's personal popularity remains high. For her ceremonies, last week, the British taxpayers spared nothing to march out over 6,000 extra police officers, send a proposal to rename Big Ben after her, and coral 7,000 security stewards on the banks of the Thames during Sunday's flotilla. More than 300 applications were received requesting to close roads for street parties in Wales. In Northern Ireland, a 21-gun salute, fly-past and medal ceremony were observed and thousands of Jubilee revelers attended London's Hyde Park for the first of the two-day Jubilee Family Festival. The crowds saw scenes from West End shows, Billy Elliot the Musical, The Lion King and War Horse.

The celebrations of the 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II rekindle the British good sense of communion with their country. Under her watch, many countries under colonial vestiges including Nigeria were liberated. She has held the Commonwealth of Nations together with uncommon candour and her visits usually receive worldwide acclaim. The Queen remains "the great unifying principle and rock of constancy".

In her good heart, the Queen found time to condole with Nigeria on the death of 153 people in the Dana Air plane mishap. It belies the trauma of a royal racked by a deluge of losses, including the death of her father at 56, the assassination of Prince Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten, the breakdown of her children's marriages in 1992 (a year that she deemed annus horribilis), the death in 1997 of her daughter-in-law, Diana Princess of Wales, and the deaths of her mother and sister in 2002. That was quite magnanimous. We rejoice with the British people and say, "Long may Her Majesty reign!"

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