In Memoriam: Queen Elizabeth II

As we learn of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, it brings to mind her long and full life of service as head of state to her country and causes one to reflect on her decades of dedication to duty. Up to date with current affairs, always moving and changing with the times, even on social media, 96 year-old Queen Elizabeth certainly upheld the pledge given on her 21st birthday in 1947:  I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

The Queen never visited the Quad Cities. The closest she got was Chicago in July 1959. Davenport’s mayor, Don Petrucelli and his wife were invited and happily attended the event.  In this blog post from the Chicago Public Library posted June 26, 2019,  we gain some detailed insight into the event.

After lunch at the Ambassador Hotel, the royal party toured the University of Chicago campus and Museum of Science and Industry. They took a quick look at the Art Institute of Chicago, then attended a reception at the Drake Hotel with Midwest governors and mayors. At just about 8 o’clock that evening, after a short delay to allow the Queen to receive an emergency dental filling, the royal procession was led by the Black Horse Troop of Chicago’s Medinah Temple to a dinner hosted by Mayor Daley at the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

Nearly a thousand people dined with the Queen at the Mayor’s dinner, including singer Etta Moten Barnett and Chicago Defender publisher and owner John H. Sengstacke. Several of the six courses offered that evening were named for the locks along the St. Lawrence Seaway including Fresh Strawberries Cote Sainte Catherine, Prime Chicago Filet Mignon St. Lambert and Double Consomme Iroquois.

Queen Elizabeth addressed the attendees that evening, sharing, “Ever since we landed this morning we have not ceased to be impressed by the massive dignity of your city…We shall carry with us…a memory of the generous hospitality of Chicago which will long warm our hearts.”

Daily Times     July 1, 1959

That sounds like Queen Elizabeth. Graciously saying she knew where Davenport was located – in the middle of the United States on the Mississippi River! The Chicago Film Archives posted a 26-minute newsreel of outtakes from that 14-hour Chicago visit at this link:

Silent and sound newsreel outtakes from Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Chicago on July 6, 1959. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, were on a 15,000-mile, 45-day tour along the St. Lawrence Seaway visiting all Canadian provinces and four of the Great Lakes, including a 14-hour stop in Chicago. This was their only American stop and was the first visit of a reigning British monarch to the Windy City.

Always aware of duty, Elizabeth served during World War II. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army training as a mechanic.
Princess Elizabeth, as a 2nd Subaltern in the ATS, leans against a vehicle during training. Imperial War Museum, TR 2835.

She became Queen upon the death of her father, King George, in 1952. She served with dignity and grace for seven decades, raised  four children and navigated the changing culture and expectations of new generations. She withstood the losses of her father as a young woman, her mother, sister Margaret, her daughter-in-law Princess Diana and most recently her prince, Philip. She kept calm and carried on through numerous royal scandals and fifteen different prime ministers.

HRH Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born April 21, 1926 in London has now died September 8, 2022 at her beloved Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The press says she was surrounded by family. Perhaps her dear corgis were nearby as well. She is the only queen many have ever “known”.  Rest easy, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. You left a brilliant legacy during your whole life which turned out to be a long one, certainly devoted to the service of your family, your citizens, and your imperial family. Your honor, sense of duty, and indefatigable spirit will be remembered fondly by many.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

(posted by Karen)

This entry was posted in Local History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *