9 September 2022
Yesterday, Buckingham Palace announced the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 96. She was the longest reigning monarch in British history, having recently celebrated her platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years as Queen.
For many, this news will be received with sorrow at the passing of one of the most recognised figureheads in the world. She was also patron and president of over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies, and public service organisations, and was renowned for her dedication to her royal duties during her reign.
Palace officials will soon announce the date of the state funeral which, if it falls on a weekday, will be an official Day of Mourning in Britain. This means that all public sector organisations, including Coleg Gwent, will close as a sign of respect to mark the occasion.
For those who wish to express their thoughts, reflections and sympathies at Coleg Gwent, we’ll make a book of condolences available on every reception from Tuesday 13 September. Following the funeral, we’ll collect all your messages and forward them on to Buckingham Palace.
Following yesterday’s sad news, the college will remain open. However, staff will be on hand to offer support and advice to anyone who needs it. We’ll continue to communicate with you when details of the state funeral are confirmed. In the meantime, please make sure you speak to someone if you feel overwhelmed by this sad event.
“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.” Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II.
Professor Russell Deacon, Lecturer at the University of South Wales and Lecturer in History, Government and Politics at Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, shared his comments in an article saying goodbye to the second Elizabethan age:
“We now have to say goodbye to the second Elizabethan age!”
“For the last seven decades there has been a constant in all of our lives that seemed to be unchanging, always there and despite our various national troubles and traumas a figure of reassurance – that figure was the late Queen Elizabeth II. From the date that her father died, 6th February 1952, we have had a constant reminder of our monarch, when we pay for goods, through her portrait on the coins and notes, sending a letter through seeing her face upon our stamps and even through paying our taxes through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Her majesty has always been there through thick and thin.
The former Queen was born a princess but she was not born to be the Queen. That path only became more of a certainty after the abdication of her uncle the uncrowned Edward VII in 1936. In the direction she then found herself there was barely time to start her own adult life before being thrust upon the throne, after the early death of her own father George VI at the age of just 56. Since that date she has persistently been our island’s most popular political figure, even or perhaps because of the fact she has never given an interview or rarely given an opinion as to what she agrees or disagrees with. At the same time she has created a royal dynasty part of which is the Prince of Wales who is now our new monarch Charles III is part.
For an historian like myself, it is interesting to note that when Queen Elizabeth II came to power it was heralded as the New Elizabethan age and it has certainly been one of unapparelled change. A student or lecturer studying at our predecessor colleges, that make up the current Coleg Gwent in 1952, could never have dreamed how the world of learning would be transformed in this new queen’s reign. Technology and the opportunity for learning and advancement have literally transformed the lives of millions within Gwent during this period. They moved into areas of employment and study that their ancestors would never have been able to access, and which were often reserved for the privileged and elite. For us and them, the late Queen’s reign has been one of opportunity to live what for previous generations were merely distant dreams.
Both the late Queen and the new King have been frequent visitors to the sites, villages, towns and cities served by our own campuses, and many of those that study or work within them have seen, met or even had a quiet word with them. For them and for you there may be a special memory that you may wish to treasure or share with others in this time of national mourning. So as we advance into a new reign and new era, take some time to recall some of the more positive things that have happened and occurred to you and your family, and what it was like to have been a New Elizabethan.”