Queen Elizabeth II greets enthusiastic crowd members who have gathered to see her on her Australasian Tour. October 1981.

Director of Fine Music Sydney and Chairman of the board of directors, Michael Morton-Evans OAM, reflects on the reign of the longest-lived British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her passing, September 9, 2022.

Program items

Eric Coates Youth of Britain from the 3 Elizabeths Suite Western Australian SO, David Measham conductor

George Handel Zadok The Priest Westminster Abbey Choir, English Chamber Orchestra, Martin Neary conductor

Malcolm Arnold Homage to the Queen ballet suite BBC PO, Rumon Gamba conductor

Irving Berlin Anything you can do I can do better from Annie Get Your Gun Ethel Merman and Howard Keel

Victor Hamm Milanollo March The Band of the Coldstream Guards

Benjamin Britten Choral Dances from Gloriana Ian Partridge, tenor; Helen Tunstall, harp; The Sixteen, Harry Christopher conductor

Benjamin Britten (arr.) God Save The Queen  London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra, Benjamin Britten conductor.

It’s hard to believe that the Queen is no longer with us. She seemed eternal and indeed for the first time in history an entire generation has grown up in Britain and the Commonwealth knowing only one monarch. She was the longest-lived and longest reigning monarch in the world and the longest serving female head of state in world history.

It came as a shock when Elizabeth suddenly discovered that she had become Queen of England while on tour in Africa on the death of King George VI in 1951. The coronation on June 2nd, 1953 was a magnificent affair. It was the first time ever that a royal coronation had been televised and was watched by millions around the world.

Elizabeth’s was indeed a life of service from beginning to end. In her younger days she toured the Commonwealth endlessly, even going so far as to visit Ghana when President Nkrumah had replaced her as head of state and was a target of assassins. The Prime Minister at the time, Harold Macmillan, said of her: “The Queen has been absolutely determined all through. She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her like a film star. She has indeed the heart and stomach of a man.” It was in 1970 here in Australia, where she always felt particularly safe, that she instituted the custom of the royal walkabout, meeting ordinary members of the public. She never gave very much of her personal feelings away, and certainly never expressed any political opinions

In 2007 she had surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria to become the longest-lived British monarch and a decade later, in 2017, she became the first to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee and a platinum wedding anniversary.

2012 marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She had been on the throne for 60 years. On June 4th beacons were lit right round the world. In December of that year she set another unusual precedent. She became the first British sovereign to attend a peacetime government Cabinet meeting. No king or queen had done so since the time of George III in 1781.

And now the Queen is no longer with us. Hard for many of us to believe, but I think we can all agree that hers was a life well lived. She served her people well.