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As Queen Elizabeth II goes home

As Queen Elizabeth II is committed to mother earth today to join her ancestors in eternal sleep, we are set for a funeral that would…

As Queen Elizabeth II is committed to mother earth today to join her ancestors in eternal sleep, we are set for a funeral that would be one of the most gargantuan spectacles ever. The burial of the monarch is set to break all records. Over 200 nations will grace the ceremony, many at the level of head of state and the rest at the ambassadorial level. I guess it would be the greatest assemblage of all times outside, probably, the United Nations. 

The British have, of course, been masters of such events. From the last century onwards, at the demise of their monarch or any figure with international stature, the British have always rolled out to beat the drums. In the last century, one can count many such momentous events. From the burial of   Queen Victoria in 1901 to that of her successor King Edward V11 in 1910 to that of his son the Queen’s grandfather King George V in 1936 to the Queen’s father, King George V1 in 1952 it has been one glorious spectacle to the other. In addition, they have even celebrated the death of those who were not exactly royalty but had international renown.  When the wartime hero, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, died in 1965 it was greeted with the same glitz. Also at the death of the glamorous Lady Diana, the estranged wife of Prince Charles, in a motor accident in 1997 the burial was a spectacular celebration. 

 Since the Queen died over a week ago the mourning across the country has been unceasing. Maybe because it has been a highly choreographed event that had been in the works for years it seemed flawless in its entirety. Some of us that have been involved in planning state events understand the stress the organisers of the Queen’s burial must be going through. It is certainly on a colossal scale more even so by its inclusiveness. The love by the common folk for the late monarch across the island is just incredible.  

One watched with admiration as citizens massed out, mourning, while the Queen’s hearse journeyed from the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she died onto Edinburgh from where her body was flown to London. In the last few days, we have watched how more of the common folk came out in hundreds of thousands of their numbers waited patiently in long meandering queues in the cold, many wrapped in blankets, just to pay their last respects to the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall. The England football legend, David Beckham waited over 12 hours in the queue out in the cold before paying his respects to the Queen. 

All the week there has been no let in the tributes that have poured from all parts of the world. After our recollections on this page last week I noted quite a number inundating our regular press and social media. One of the comments I noted was by A’isha M S Ismail which appeared on the wall of her Facebook. My contemporary at the University College of Swansea, University of Wales, A’isha was a commissioner in Kano State in the 1980s and later Minister of Women Affairs in President Obasanjo’s first term. Over the years, in the course of her public duties, A’isha has been privileged to meet the Queen, her husband the Duke of Edinburgh as well as the then Prince of Wales and his late wife, Diana, the Princess of Wales. Read what she recollects: 

“I have been reminiscing on life and all its intricacies. How we tarry from one situation to another, from one challenge to another, and from one activity to another, unending, all creating a flurry of actions and reactions until one day we are no more and time creates forgetfulness and few remember us. 

“I met the Queen of England and Wales in Australia when we went for a Commonwealth meeting when I was a minister. She extended her hand to us and we shook hands. The Queen unlike in her pictures was beautiful and very human.  

“I met the Queen’s daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, when I was a Federal Perm Sec in charge of National Commission for Women when she visited Nigeria and attended our Better Life fair. Princess Diana was very charming. 

“I met the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip when he visited the wetlands in the then Kano State. I was assigned to accompany him and the former Head of State, General Obasanjo. The wetlands are where millions of birds from all over the world converge. It is now in Jigawa State. I was then a commissioner in my state, Kano. Prince Philip was very humorous. 

“Finally, I met her son, Prince Charles, twice as a student at the University College of Swansea, University of Wales. He was the Chancellor of the University. Now he is the King of England and the sovereign ruler of Great Britain. 

“Now the Queen is no more, the beloved Princess Diana is no more, Prince Philip is no more, their actions, and reactions buried with them.  

Indeed, as Shakespeare once wrote, ‘All world is but a stage, and a poor player that struts and frets upon the stage, then is heard no more; it’s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ 

May the Queen’s soul be in perfect peace, amen.” 

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