‘No one can question her total dedication to duty’ Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaicans have joined others from around the world in reacting to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away at her summer home at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on Thursday, September 8.

The Queen was 96 years old and was Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch who spent 70 years on the throne to which she ascended on February 6, 1952.

Former Prime Minister P J Patterson, in a video statement, said the Queen, during her reign, “presided during this period with remarkable acuity in the transition from empire to a Commonwealth that now encompasses every continent”.

“No one can question her total dedication to duty and the strength of spirit she exuded, whether in times of peril to the British nation or incidents of turmoil within her own family,” Patterson stated.

He noted that the Queen was Jamaica’s Head of State during the country’s 60 years of independence, during which she expressed her fondness for the island on “many memorable visits”.

“We normally talk about the end of an era but with Queen Elizabeth several eras have passed,” said Donna Hope, Professor of Culture, Gender and Society at The University of the West Indies, Mona, while speaking with Loop News.

“She has been sitting on the throne for 70 years, that’s like three generations. People born and people died with her sitting on the throne. She has grandchildren who are married and having children. It’s like she was around forever,” added Hope.

The UWI professor noted that Jamaica has been “bobbing and weaving” about moving the Monarch as Head of State.

“We have grown up with Queen Elizabeth as our Monarch and we have not seen any movement in that regard, and now a new Monarch (King Charles III) has been put in place,” she said.

Hope said the Queen’s death is causing a “huge ripple” across the globe because people are so used to seeing Queen Elizabeth as the Monarch. She said that while Britain was Jamaica’s colonial master, that was for a different conversation.

“Just holding it together through all of the different eras, that’s a testimony. She didn’t waiver and she kept this whole regal thing together. When everybody else was dissembling, she was very stoic,” Hope observed.

She said living like that takes a great deal of personal sacrifice.

“People will tell you about the money [she had] and all that, but living under the glare of millions of people, not just in your country but around the world, and holding up this persona… no privacy, constant scrutiny and trying to live a specific life …and as a woman. She really held it together,” Hope stated.

Added Hope: “The Queen for us in Jamaica is a symbol of a part of our lives that our country continues to still recognise, regardless of what they want to say.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II smiles while receiving the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis and his wife Paola Cassis during an audience at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Thursday, April 28, 2022. (Photo: AP)

In the meantime, former President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Howard Mitchell, said “colonialism was not all bad”.

“We have inherited some things from the British Empire and from the monarchy that obviously worked for them and worked for a functioning society,” Mitchell said.

“So it is with a sense of regret that we see this era pass because, to a great extent, we have not replaced the order and the discipline that colonialism and the monarchy brought and which every society needs to function,” he told Loop News.

Continuing, Mitchell said: “What the British mastered, certainly in the latter part of colonialism, was a way of ruling that at least had the framework of decency and of fairness – our judicial system, for example, is a legacy that I would say I appreciate. There are other things that I don’t appreciate but our judicial system is a legacy that we should be thankful for.”

Mitchell said there were missed opportunities for Jamaica.

“What I regret is that we haven’t taken the good and, quite frankly, nor have we rejected the bad. What we have done to a great extent is simply replicated the bad by changing the form and the appearance of our rulers, but we have not absorbed the good to a great extent,” he said.

The former PSOJ President said the Queen’s passing is a moment of sadness because she did embody a civilisation that has lasted for a long time “and quite frankly, in my personal opinion, certainly in the UK, there’s an appearance of decay”.

Mitchell said the monarch’s death is a watershed moment and while the now King Charles has had a long period of training, he will have to come good because he has big shoes to fill.

“He could forge a new direction that will bring the UK back to a sense of self-respect because I believe, in recent times, they have lost their self-respect,” Mitchell concluded.

Meanwhile, broadcaster Fae Ellington, in commenting on the passing of the Queen, said: “She has done a brilliant innings; I’m talking about her as a person, as I’m not somebody who supports the Monarchy.”

Ellington shared that as a broadcaster who has covered three of Queen Elizabeth’s visits to Jamaica, “I did the work and I enjoyed doing the work while I was given the opportunity – the preparation, the delivery and the commentary.

“I know that those people who believe in the Monarchy will feel a great loss, but my thing is not so much a great loss, she clearly has played a role but she is moving on and I would love to see what the Monarchy will look like with King Charles at the helm,” she said.

After telling Loop News that what she was about to say next was not realistic, Ellington said: “I would love if something could happen and they modify the Monarchy or disband the Monarchy”.

Princess Elizabeth, centre, age 11, appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation of her father, King George VI, right, in London, May 12, 1937. (Photo: AP)

She explained that she has no problem with them (the Royal family) as people, “but I have a problem with the Monarchy and the value and the money and all of what they have accrued and where it came from”.

“I look at her now as a mother, her children and their children and great grandchildren, and they must be in mourning and death is natural, and we must not for one moment remove that from the process of what they’re going through…we have to allow that to happen,” said Ellington.

She also noted that the Queen kept the family together “through some very rough modern-day behaviour – divorces, breakups and cheating and having to face the fact that they were viewed as racist when Meghan came into the family.

“She had to deal with all of that and she dealt with it with such decorum,” said Ellington.