Queen Elizabeth served as Queen of Canada and the Commonwealth from 1952 to 2022. For many people, myself included, we have never lived in a world without Queen Elizabeth. And so it is a truly solemn occasion that we now find ourselves saying goodbye to her after so long.
On behalf of all Ontarians, I want to send our deepest condolences to her family, to the people of the United Kingdom and to the millions of people around the world who loved and admired her so much. And while we share their grief at the passing of this historic figure, I want to reflect on what she accomplished in her life and what she meant to the world. Because for her entire 96 years, Queen Elizabeth exemplified what it means to be a servant of the people. Her life was service above self.
During the Second World War, she demonstrated her devotion to duty by enlisting in the military, serving as a mechanic and driver. She never left her country. She never turned her back on her responsibility. Her first and only instinct was service and duty to her country and to her people.
After she ascended to the throne at the age of 25, she would continue to serve for another 70 years. Over those seven decades, which spanned 15 British Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, the world never stopped changing, but Queen Elizabeth always remained. Through global upheaval, domestic troubles and heartbreaking personal tragedy, Queen Elizabeth II continued to be the constant presence that gave people comfort.
This remained true throughout the recent global pandemic, when the world was brought to a standstill and people were forced to stay apart. As people looked to her for comfort, she was there to reassure us that we will be with our families again, we will be together again. And of course, she was right. Then, during one of the most challenging times in recent memory, as she had been for us countless times before, Queen Elizabeth was a reminder of the greater bonds that unite us, that connect us and bring us together in good times and bad.
And while I know the Queen had affection for the entire Commonwealth, I believe she kept a very special spot in her heart for Canada. In her time as monarch, she made 22 official visits to Canada, each time gaining more admirers and winning more hearts. Like us, Queen Elizabeth loved our country, its diversity and its beauty.
In the days since she passed, we have seen an outpouring of emotion and grief from all corners of the world. This is a testament to what she meant to so many people. Queen Elizabeth’s impact was far-reaching. She supported over 600 charities throughout her reign. She spent countless hours working to improve the lives of people everywhere.
I count myself as one of those people who will miss her dearly.
So while we are saddened by her passing, as each of us feel her loss deeply, let us reflect on the mark she has left and how fortunate we have been to live in the time of Queen Elizabeth II. As King Charles III, our new monarch, said of his own mother, hers was a life well lived.
Today, as we remember the past, we also look to the future, a future in which King Charles III continues his mother’s great legacy—a legacy of dedication, of duty, of service to his people; a legacy imprinted on him throughout a life watching and learning from his mother, our Queen Elizabeth.
Before I close, I want to pay special tribute to the occasion of the Queen’s 21st birthday in 1947. Over the past few days, many of us have remembered the words she used when speaking to the Commonwealth countries. We’ve reflected on the promise she made to her people—a promise that echoed across the world then and still does today: “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.” For Queen Elizabeth, her promise was her purpose: service, duty, dedication to her people. For us, her promise is a calling: a reminder to always give our best to each other.
On behalf of all Ontarians, may God bless the memory of Queen Elizabeth II and may God bless the reign of our monarch, King Charles III. Long live the King.