LIKE so many of you, I was shocked to hear of The Queen’s passing on Thursday, September 8. It was, as many deaths are, quite unexpected.

On hearing that Her Majesty would be laid at rest in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh for a period of 24 hours, I felt compelled to go and pay my last respects – and having served in the military both in the Army and RAF Reserves, I wanted to give The Queen one last salute.

Luckily, as one of the first to enter the cathedral, I was allowed to spend around twenty minutes in silent prayer and contemplation near to Her Majesty’s coffin. An emotional time for me and a great privilege to be allowed to stay for so long.

Now, I don’t consider myself as a royalist but with so many people making the effort to view the Queen’s coffin, I have wondered what the motivation behind this urge is. It strikes me as strange, how the death of someone well-known affects us? We don’t really know these people but their effect on our lives, although subtle, can be profound.

I remember my mother crying when Elvis died. Adult males on American television crying when John Wayne died. Women crying when John Lennon was killed. I’ve seen newsreaders crying when John F Kennedy was assassinated. Men and women crying when Princess Diana died.

All of these people were in our lives for a brief period of time, maybe even a decade or two, through the medium of television or, for some, seeing them live, in person.

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But the Queen is different. The effect of her death has been magnified as the Queen’s image is everywhere. She is on our stamps and on our money. Her image is in schools, theatres, hospitals, military bases, Scout halls, community halls, and lots more places besides. We have all seen her on the news, on documentaries, at Royal premieres and variety shows, played by actresses in films and drama series, and some have even seen her in person.

Her image has been with us all for almost a century – seventy years of those as our Queen. Some may consider this as a form of brainwashing but I have to admit, I rather admired the Queen. She was given a job to do, one she was not entirely prepared for, and rather than abdicate and shift the burden onto someone else, she chose to commit her life to public service.

During her reign, she didn’t swan off to private islands on holiday at taxpayer’s expense as some other Royals did. She didn’t live the life of Riley, spend her day fishing or playing golf, or sit back and allow others to do her job. She was out and about meeting the public sometimes three or four times per week. She would often travel by train or the Royal Yacht rather than private plane. And this was on top of her daily parliamentary duties – which she never missed.

But what did she actually do for people? Well, if you ask people who met her or came out to cheer her, they will tell you a variety of feelings; people in hospitals felt comforted and cheered up by her; people in disaster zones were given hope; and most people felt happier having seen her. She had an extraordinary effect on people.

Whatever you may think of her, and I know some of you reading this are anti-royals and hate the Queen, but she was a mother, a grandmother, a person loved by many people throughout our country and you have to admit, it is quite remarkable to see so many countries across the world mourning her loss.

One thing I am sure of, it is quite unlikely that we will see any person’s death have quite so big a national impact in our lifetime as the Queen’s. It is indeed, the passing of an era.

Until next time, be nice to each other, keep smiling and stay safe.