Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022  |  Reading time:  12 mins  | Read online

The death of Queen Elizabeth II

In response to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, this week we are reflecting on the significance of public service; the mixed global responses to this news; and the critical role local government plays in assisting communities during times of grief and sentiment.

Most Global Local staff are UK based and in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and as a mark of respect to the Royal Family, we have altered our publication schedule to reflect the role that local government plays during periods of public mourning.

We also recognise that not everyone will feel the same type or level of emotion during this time and we are holding space for reflection and the variety of emotions that people may be experiencing. During this time, we appreciate that many of our local government colleagues are doing all that they can to ‘get this right’ and we feel the same responsibility. 

We are also sharing resources from cities that are working to become more compassionate, supporting individuals and their loved ones through death and dying. Next week we’ll resume our regular editorial schedule.

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This week's featured content

The global impact of Queen Elizabeth II's death

By Freya Millard, LGIU

"The world she inherited in 1952 is not the one she left in 2022."

Despite her impressive age of 96 years old, for many, the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday still felt almost unexpected. Its impact has been felt far beyond the UK, unleashing intense emotions across the globe.

While in many countries the role of the British monarchy (and the legacy of the British Empire) is the subject of legitimate scrutiny, the Queen has also been recognised internationally as a symbol of lifelong public service.

For those in public service, her dedication to putting global, country or community interests ahead of her own is a goal to strive towards, and her whole life was symbolic of that greater picture. As a result, the impact of her death on a global scale has left wide and varied implications – as discussed in this brand-new reflective blog.

LGIU Global Local Highlights


Local government honours the memory of Queen Elizabeth II

Around the world, local government acts as a locus of remembrance and grief. Here we collect examples of how Queen Elizabeth II has been honoured by local government officials and institutions and how they also provide a centre for local people to express their grief. Read the bundle here.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – our country’s greatest public servant

As local government joins the rest of the country in mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, LGIU's Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West pays tribute to the remarkable and inspirational legacy of public service that she bequeaths to all those involved in civic life. Click here to read this article.

The global response

News of Queen Elizabeth's death has sparked significant reactions all around the world.

Canada: Indigenous leaders express sadness at Queen’s death and look forward to enhanced conversations about change

Indigenous leaders in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province expressed their sadness at the Queen’s passing. NunatuKavut Community Council President Todd Russell, of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, extended his condolences to the Royal Family and highlighted “the special relationship between the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the Crown”. Flags were lowered to half-mast in all Nunatsiavut Government buildings. Miawpukek First Nation Chief Mi’sel Joe expressed his shock at the news, and reminisced on once meeting the then-Prince Charles. Mr Joe expressed his regret at not mentioning the difficulties Aboriginal people faced in the region, such as being deliberately written out of Canada’s Terms of the Union. Mr Joe said “if things change for us, they’re not going to be changed with the royalty out of Great Britain; it’s going to change with the governments — the federal government, the provincial government here in Newfoundland — those are the power-breakers that will change our way we look at the world, and whether or not we are accepted as true Aboriginal people that was on this island a long time before the Europeans arrived.”

Ireland: The Queen’s passing met with sympathy and recognition of her healing role

The Queen’s passing has been met in Ireland with widespread sympathy, some indifference, and reflections on her legacy regarding colonial rule, the Troubles and the efforts to repair strained ties between the Irish and British. Irish politicians, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill, praised the Queen. Martin said that the Queen’s visit to Ireland in 2011 “marked a crucial step in the normalisation of relations with our nearest neighbour” when she became the first monarch to travel to the republic since its independence. O’Neill said “Throughout the peace process she led by example in building relationships with those of us who are Irish, and who share a different political allegiance and aspirations to herself and her Government”. While applauded for her advocacy for peace, her death also rekindled memories and trauma in Ireland of the suffering endured by the Irish under the British Empire and her role as a symbol of a state involved in decades of violence and civil unrest during the Troubles.
The Washington Post

Kenya: Mixed responses to the Queen's death

Leaders in Kenya, where some 70 years ago the then Princess Elizabeth learnt of her accession to the throne, paid tribute to the announcement of the Queen’s death, ordering four days of mourning and highlighting her as a “towering icon of selfless service to humanity”. However, among younger generations, many were reportedly indifferent to the news - a sign of the distance and increased irrelevance of British Royalty in Kenya. Additionally, many were quick to highlight the history of atrocities committed against Kenyans during the Queen’s reign, which were often erased by colonial education.
The Guardian

Global: Conversations about self-rule set to continue

The death of Queen Elizabeth II is expected to ignite conversations of self-rule and republicanism in the 56 Commonwealth states. Some argue many countries and governments remained in the Commonwealth out of a personal respect and loyalty to the Queen herself, rather than any particular benefit from the UK. Major figures including NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Arden have said they expect Australia and New Zealand to become republics this century despite current majority support for the monarchy. In Canada, just 34 percent of respondents supported King Charles remaining head of state in a 2021 poll, while Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness announced his country’s intention to become an independent nation earlier this year. While the Commonwealth currently exists as a community of friendships between like-minded nations, it remains to be seen whether the Queen’s dedication and global standing was the main reason for its continued place in the world. 

Canada: What to do with municipal portraits of the Queen?

Since her death, many in charge of government buildings across the Commonwealth are faced with a similar question: what should be done with the portraits and likenesses of the Queen? The Canadian Government provided specific instructions on adding a pall ribbon as a symbol of mourning to portraits of the Queen if public bodies desired. While more common in federal and provincial than municipal spaces, the City of Toronto has asked facility staff to place these ribbons on all likenesses of the Queen during the mourning period. Portraits of the Queen will eventually be retired and replaced by a portrait of King Charles III, which raises the question of what to do with the likeness of the former monarch.
The Toronto Star

Policy & Resources

Resource: The Compassionate City Charter
As explained above, 'compassionate city' among other criteria is "a community that recognizes that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone's responsibility." The Compassionate City Charter provides a useful checklist for organisations to help them reflect on their progress toward becoming a compassionate city.

Case studies: Public Health and Palliative Care international has collected a range of case studies including: 

– Kozhikode, India which since 1993 has grown its compassionate cities programme to include thousands of young volunteers from schools and academic institutions as well as people who may be differently abled or from marginalised groups.

– Plymouth, England is training end-of-life champions across 72 care homes in the city as well as developing an end-of-life network of professionals and volunteers to support people in need. 

Network: All With You is a network of cities in Spain and Latin America focused on raising awareness, training, research and implementation of care and support networks for people with advanced stage diseases or who are facing the end of life. They have developed a methodology for civic sectors and a network of nine cities where citizens are promoting compassionate care at end of life. 

Other examples include Cologne, Germany; Taipei City, Taiwan; New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada; and a network of towns across the US.

Thanks for reading!

Next week, we’ll be looking at how local governments have been affected by the rise of short-term rentals, including international best practice from councils learning to successfully regulate the sector.

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