4 October 2022

Obituary - HM Queen Elizabeth II

Patron of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining.

It is with great sadness that we remember the life of our late Patron and Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II.

Born on 21 April 1926 in Mayfair, London, to the then Duke and Duchess of York, her young life abruptly changed in 1936 following the abdication of King Edward VIII, when her father acceded to the throne making her heir presumptive. Privately educated, she commenced Royal duties during the second world war, when she also got her wish to serve and did so joining the Auxiliary Transport Service, without ‘grace or favour’. Training as a driver and mechanic, her knowledge and skills as both very often surprised people in later years.

Princess Elizabeth as she was, undertook her first overseas royal tour in 1947 to South Africa, and on her 21st birthday that year made her famous broadcast to the nation and commonwealth – pledging her whole life to the service of 
the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries, a pledge that she honoured to the end of her life. Later the same year she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Denmark and Greece, and so began a partnership that lasted 73 years. Their first child, Charles, now King Charles III was born in 1948, followed by a daughter Anne, now the Princess Royal, in 1950. They were followed by Andrew, now Duke of York, in 1960 and Edward, now Duke of Wessex, in 1964.

By 1951 the health of her father King George VI was failing, and it was with a heavy heart that she set off for a tour of Kenya, Australia, and New Zealand early in 1952. It was during the tour of Kenya in March that she was told of the passing of her father by her husband, and she was now Queen. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1953 and it was the first coronation broadcast on television; many members during the time might recall cramming around television sets, some of which had been purchased especially to watch this event.

The reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II spanned 70 years during which significant social and political change occurred. When she acceded the throne, the country was still recovering from the ravages of war and rationing was still in force. As a child she had seen the breakup of the British Empire into a Commonwealth of Nations, which was established by the time she acceded the throne. Societal changes in the 1960s cast doubt on the future of the monarchy in the UK, but she and her husband modified the institution – in an unprecedented step they allowed television cameras to record the ordinary life of the Royal Family in 1969.

If she had any doubts as to her popularity in the eyes of the public, these were soon discounted by the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977 with street parties taking place across the country and many other events which drew large crowds of well-wishers. She continued to modify the institution of monarchy throughout her life, particularly after the death of Princess Diana in 1997, ensuring that it remained relevant in an ever-changing society. The affection in which she continued to be held by the public, not only in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, but also by many around the world, continued throughout her reign. This was clearly evident during the celebrations to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002, Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

During her 70 years of public service, HM the Queen visited more than 100 countries and undertook thousands of royal engagements in the UK, where she took great delight in meeting people, whoever they were. Those who had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty will all have their own story to tell, and many will no doubt recount her polite, and above all, caring manner, as well as her genuine interest and prexisting knowledge whether it was regarding everyday activities or technology and business. Her genuine interest in everything to do with the people she met only added to the affection felt by many towards her.

Privately very few people knew much about the life of our Queen, however her love of horses and the countryside was often on display, as was her concern about the environment. Many overlooked that she was also a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother, and the love she had for her family was evident for all to see. In addition, she had a lighter side and there cannot be many who will forget her role in the opening of the 2012 Olympic games held in London, or the special guest she invited to tea during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations. All of this underlined that apart from being our Sovereign, she was also human like us.

HM Queen Elizabeth II became Patron of the Institute in 1952, and she and her husband supported the Institute and 
the industries with in its outreach throughout their lives. They offered encouragement, hosted and attended meetings, and the Institute was honoured to have its headquarters in Euston Road officially opened by HRH Prince Philip in 2015. In recognition of her services and support to the steel industry, Her Majesty was awarded the Bessemer Gold Medal by the Institute in 1969. In closing this tribute to the lifetime of dedicated service of our late Patron and Sovereign HM Queen Elizabeth II, on behalf of the trustees, members, and employees of IOM3, I merely wish to say thank you for everything Ma’am.

Ian Bowbrick CEng CEnv FIMMM 
Director of Membership and Professional Standards