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On the death of Queen Elizabeth II

On the death of Queen Elizabeth II and ascension of King Charles III to the throne, British expat Andy Tong Dee contributes his personal thoughts at the end of an era in his nation’s history. 

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By Andy Tong Dee

Sunday 18 September 2022, 11:00AM


Andy Tong Dee in full uniform.

Andy Tong Dee in full uniform.

I regret to say I only nearly met the Queen. I was at one point just two metres from her at a small garden party she held for members of the armed forces. She commissioned me as an officer twice; once when I joined the British Army, and again when I transferred to the Royal Navy. She was my boss, and I cheerfully risked my life on her behalf on many occasions for over 20 years.

She came to the throne six years before I was born and reigned for 70, during which time she gave faultless service to our nation. She was also head of state of 14 other countries and Head of the British Commonwealth of 56 nations.

The British Monarchy has been a huge success under her reign. She always knew what to say at the right time. She has acted as a source of unity not just for our nation, but for the British Commonwealth. I have no doubt that this success will continue under her son King Charles III. He has shown genuine respect for other cultures and religions and a real concern for the environment and the disadvantaged. This has all proved very popular with the British public.

Talking of which, the world seems amazed at how, within just a few days, we can so smoothly change both our head of state and prime minister. I am certain that the world will be similarly dazzled by how well we can bury our Queen and crown our new King. With nearly 1,000 years of royal tradition, we Brits know how to do spectacle. But when the bunting is all swept up, the flags taken down, what remains?

I recall a time when Britain was divided and in crisis until we elected Margaret Thatcher as our prime minister in 1979 to sort things out. Unions were working to bring down the elected government; the Armed Forces and economy were in tatters; strikes crippled the nation; inflation stood at 13.5%; everything seemed broken. I can remember doing my homework to candlelight when I was a teenager as the lights were literally going out.

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Today, people in Britain probably wonder if that will happen to them this winter, so reliant are we from energy from elsewhere; the pound has plunged in value; inflation is at 10% and rising; government debt has soared; strikes are back; Scotland is fractious; the EU Commission wants to punish us forever over Brexit; we cannot recruit enough people to man our greatly diminished armed forces.

British expats and their Thai partners here have direct experience of the UK’s decline. There are consulates in Phuket for many countries, but not the UK. Thais can submit visa applications and do biometric testing for Italy and Germany here in person, while those applying to the UK must go to Bangkok. Such applications are habitually processed by such EU countries in just two weeks. Recently, a British friend of mine returned home with cancer; his Thai wife had to wait three months for her visa before she could join him. He was dead by the time she got it, despite her frantic efforts and no number available to ring about it. The US, Philippines and French consuls all send staff to Phuket periodically to support their citizens; the UK does not, so we must go to the embassy in Bangkok, which I hear is now about as welcoming as a fortress. Clearly all is not well with the UK.

So this second Elizabethan era ends, and another begins. I don’t know if our new Prime Minister Liz Truss is the right person to get us out of the crisis we are in, but I am sure our new King is the right one to lead us through it. His mother has taught him well and has shown him a perfect example of what a monarch should be. With his withering gravitas, I am sure he will be as effective as the Queen at holding his prime ministers to account on our behalf in their weekly meetings.

So I’ll end by saying, thanks for all you have done, Queen Elizabeth, and done so well. You will be deeply missed by our nation and the Commonwealth. 

Requiescat in Pace. Rest in peace.

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Old guy | 22 September 2022 - 04:01:22

A collosal waste of the world's resources which would have been better used to build infrastructure in the countries her Monarchy has plundered. 

christysweet | 21 September 2022 - 22:38:36

Not sure I can agree on  Chuck 3  as his first public act  was to whine about a pen- or was it a whinge? What's the difference? 

christysweet | 21 September 2022 - 22:36:08

Now THAT was a funeral !! Some obscure station out of Nashville  on Youtube showed it all sans commentary- instead, just the noises  from  where the cameras were which was  far more immersive. Disappointed at no time did horses draw the gun carriage with the casket. 

maverick | 18 September 2022 - 12:14:37

Well said 

 

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