This is our country’s saddest day. In the hearts of every one of us there is an ache at the passing of our Queen, a deep and personal sense of loss – far more intense, perhaps, than we expected.
In these first grim moments since the news, I know that millions and millions of people have been pausing whatever they have been doing, to think about Queen Elizabeth, about the bright and shining light that has finally gone out.
She seemed so timeless and so wonderful that I am afraid we had come to believe, like children, that she would just go on and on.
Wave after wave of grief is rolling across the world, from Balmoral – where our thoughts are with all the Royal family – and breaking far beyond this country and throughout that great Commonwealth of nations that she so cherished and which cherished her in return.
As is so natural with human beings, it is only when we face the reality of our loss that we truly understand what has gone.
As we think of the void she leaves, we understand the vital role she played, selflessly and calmly embodying the continuity and unity of our country.
We think of her deep wisdom, and historic understanding, and her seemingly inexhaustible but understated sense of duty. Relentless though her diary must have felt, she never once let it show, and to tens of thousands of events – great and small – she brought her smile and her warmth and her gentle humour – and for an unrivalled 70 years she spread that magic around her kingdom.
This is our country’s saddest day because she had a unique and simple power to make us happy. That is why we loved her. That is why we grieve for Elizabeth the Great, the longest-serving and – in many ways – the finest monarch in our history.
It was one of her best achievements that she not only modernised the constitutional monarchy, but produced an heir to the throne who will amply do justice to her legacy, and whose own sense of duty is in the best traditions of his mother and his country.
Though our voices may be choked with sadness, we can still stay with confidence the words not heard in this country for more than seven decades.
God Save The King.