Everyone at LGIU is deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Like our members and everyone across local government, we pay tribute to the Queen’s lifetime of inspirational public service and her dedication to a global community of public servants, and of course, send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family.
Local government, like the communities it represents, is mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. That mourning has both a constitutional and a human dimension. The Sovereign sits at the top of the pyramid of civic life but local government is an essential foundation within that structure and the Queen was well aware of its value.
We have heard a lot about the 15 Prime Ministers who served the Queen during her 70-year reign, but the number of council leaders and mayors who served during that time runs into the thousands.
How many civic buildings did the Queen visit, open or commemorate? How many councillors and council employees did she speak to? We cannot know. What we do know is that every single person she met will have remembered that encounter forever – and will have felt valued and affirmed by it. They will have felt the value of their work recognised and they will have seen this reflected in the Queen’s ideals of public service to which they too aspired.
The cumulative impact of this encouragement and inspiration is immeasurable.
The Queen understood the value of places. She was never a remote figure. She knew the importance of people in their communities and the value of those who lead them. She travelled tirelessly throughout her reign to meet people across the UK and the world in their own places. There is no part of the United Kingdom and very few parts of the world in which her presence was not felt.
Councils covering every part of our country are now working diligently and with great care to ensure all of our communities can mourn the loss of the Queen in the most respectful and appropriate ways possible. They will be opening books of condolence, managing public events and supporting their communities through a period of grieving.
And while many of these details will have been prepared for some time, there will be another layer of significance to this for the officers and councillors across the UK, the Commonwealth and the world as they lead their communities through this period of mourning – the human one.
The Queen has been a towering figure in our national life: for both the joyous occasions and the more sombre ones she was a unifying presence. And local government has played a pivotal role in helping communities share in those occasions by bringing people together in street parties, festivals or at times or remembrance.
Her Majesty the Queen embodied everything that local government stands for – public service and community, supporting and celebrating people and places.
In the last decade alone, we have seen some of the greatest and deepest divisions this country has ever faced – across communities and both national and local politics – but throughout it all she has remained a steadfast beacon of strength and unity.
So, it is fair to say that the Queen understood the impact of local government and civic life on the fabric of this nation. The greatest way I can think of to honour Her Majesty’s remarkable legacy is for our local (and national) public servants, up and down the country, to continue to build on her inspirational commitment to public service each and every day they carry out their vital duties.
This article was originally published in The MJ, 9th September 2022.