The Queen Mother (1900-2002)

by Brian Risman, Publisher, www thelawjournal co uk - April 1, 2002

An event occurred this past weekend that shook the world. Namely, the sudden death of a 101-year-old woman. Was the world affected by her death because she was the Queen Mother -- the female parent of the current Sovereign of the United Kingdom ? No. The world stopped because that woman was in many ways the long-time leader of the free world. Never mind how many weapons the powerful nations have, how many countries they conquer. The force of that one woman was more powerful than all of the armed forces.

Adolf Hitler rolled over most of continental Europe in 1939-1940. Yet he knew that the force of her personality was something he could not defeat. No wonder he referred to her as 'the most dangerous woman in Europe'.

What was that special quality that allowed a Scottish commoner turned Princess turned Queen turned Queen Mother to so influence the world in her century ? The Queen Mother had an intelligence, a presence, a gift for the right statement at the right time -- bridging the class differences by, after the first of many bombings of Buckingham Palace, stating that 'now we can look the East end (of London, the working class area) in the eye'. Not to mention her famous statement regarding the King, the Princesses, and herself staying in London during the Blitz.

Fine. That is history. What about in the 50-plus years after the War ? Why did she still have such an impact ? Her impact was dignity with decency. She didn't make political pronouncements. What she did do was to make the ordinary and the great feel that they had someone genuinely caring about them. Governments may be arrogant. People may have personal troubles. The Queen Mother made people feel that they counted. Simple, yet significant. Even her famed penchant for gin and the races was viewed as an endearing aspect of a family member.

That ability to reach people as family spanned her life through peace and wartime. She lived in castles and palaces, yet had no problem with speaking to ordinary people, with relating to them.

It is interesting that people are not really mourning her -- they are celebrating her life, as she would want it.

Is her impact over ? Not a chance. For she has set a standard going forward that every public figure will (and has been) measured against.

Enjoy your gin and races wherever you are, Queen Mum.


Brian Risman