On the corner of Broadway and Wall Street, New York City, the historic Trinity Church stands watch over the busy pedestrians walking by.
It’s a time vault with many secrets and witness to many famous people like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Neil Armstrong.
At the very entrance to Trinity Church is a plaque commemorating a visit by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Who was this woman?
What made her so loved and respected?
Why is her death so devastating?
Often much is lost in translation. Unless you live in the Commonwealth, it’s almost impossible to understand the Queen’s role and why she’d even be in American unveiling plaques in Manhattan churches.
First, she was not a celebrity. That would be a sleight.
Second, she was not a politician. That would be a constitutional error of the worst kind.
So, our loyal American readers, what follows is my best way to translate Queen Elizabeth II into an American setting so you best understand why her death is significant to Commonwealth countries.
Think of Queen Elizabeth as a blend of your favourite grandmother, Elenore Roosevelt, Barbara Bush and Jackie Kennedy, impeccably cleansed of all political bias. Democrats and Republicans adore her.
She holds all ceremonial roles at a Federal level like visiting Arlington Cemetery, Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House, attending the 9/11 memorial services, with absolutely no political or executive power.
She’s also head of the Episcopal Church across America and her natural Christian example is admired by all Christian traditions. Her virtue shines.
Then add to this that she’s the embodiment of your nation in an almost mythical, folklore way like George Washington, Betsy Ross and even Uncle Sam but all while she’s still alive. She’s a living legend, her mere presence radiates an aura of national cohesion and optimism.
If this weren’t impossible enough, add that she’s mixing with everyday grassroots institutions of society – the American Legion, birdwatching societies, little league associations – and deeply, deeply loved and respected. No polarisation. She binds.
Now she does this successfully for 70 years so that, after being elected, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, Trump and Biden come to her for official appointment, which happens without exception.
Then amplify her humility, selflessness, Christian virtue and diplomacy to 2.5 billion people across 56 countries.
She performs perfectly.
And then she dies.
Can our loyal American readers imagine?
Feel for us.
A lifetime of Christian dedication and virtue.
It took her from Army mechanic in WWII, to the Throne, to Head of the Commonwealth of Nations and 2.5 billion people and, yes, even to the steps of Trinity Church, New York.