the debrief: issue eight

disclaimer: this article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author

Queen Elizabeth II was a European Queen

by Orestis Sechas

image credit: A09 (Wikimedia Commons)

The message of Queen Elizabeth II’s death plunged most of the European community into deep grief. Although Her Majesty’s passing was mostly met with mournful reactions, some were less sad and more jubilant. Nevertheless, for most Europeans, the death of Queen Elizabeth II meant that a period of peace and political stability was coming to an unexpected close. Throughout her unprecedented 70 years on the throne, she was stoic and steadfast in her service, but more than anything, she always found the right words for every moment in time. Of course, she served her nation with distinction as a stalwart example of British values of honour, dignity, and resilience. The sovereign’s speeches were, however, not only addressed to the British people, but to all people from around the world. From her first public speech in 1940 to her historic address during the Covid pandemic in 2020, the Queen was a symbol of hope, peace, and stability. 

However, for the European community, Queen Elizabeth II was something more than a symbol. She had a mythical quality to her; she was more than a monarch. Most important for Europe was that she seemed to recognise a link between peace and building up a united Europe. In a time when her country and the continent shared a tumultuous relationship, fuelled by historical rivalries and mutual distrust, the Queen was careful with her choice of words, but always consistent. In the most heated European debates, the Queen, in contrast to most Britons, seemed to support a united and peaceful Europe, rather than a divided, nationalist one. This is evident in her long-standing pro-European efforts. At a banquet served in her honour at Bellevue Palace in Berlin on 24 June 2015 Queen Elizabeth II said the following: ‘We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it.’ This is only one example of Her Majesty’s pro-European statements which, although expressed with extreme moderation, reveal that Queen Elizabeth II recognised that the United Kingdom and the rest of European community should have a common goal – the unification and the reconstruction of Europe in hope that it would lead to peace and progress. 

Unfortunately, her efforts to reconstruct Europe and unite the people of Europe did not come to fruition. Her Majesty’s European vision collapsed with Brexit. Despite her pro-European convictions and her political neutrality, the British nation voted in favour of Brexit, ending the course envisioned by Elizabeth II, turning away from the continent. Nevertheless, Elizabeth II will always be remembered as a European Queen whose ancestry and efforts united a dozen European countries.

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