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A reign dedicated to the service of her people

Following the terribly sad announcement of the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II I have been reflecting on the legacy of our great Queen and the impact she had on the lives of all of us across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

A reign dedicated to the service of her people

Anyone under the age of 70 has been privileged to live their entire lives under her reign. For many of us it felt like the sun would never set on that extraordinary period.

But sadly history and logic will tell us that all good things must come to an end, and death as the great inevitable will bring to a close even the longest and most successful of reigns.

Although we knew this day would come, when it did it still had the power to surprise and to provoke a genuine outpouring of grief. I know that grief and reflection is being poignantly felt by our partners in Devon and Cornwall Police. Among their ranks of more than 5,000 officers, staff and volunteers not a single person will have served any other monarch. 

The flags around the police estate are now flying at half mast as a gesture of the honour and respect with which she was held. 

For generations of us Elizabethans the Queen was there while we were schooled, through our careers, at times of national strife and celebration. We literally did not know what life was like without her. 

In the Westcountry we have a particular connection with the Royal family. I am among the many residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who has been fortunate enough to meet the Queen here, once as a child and once in the role serving our communities as Police and Crime Commissioner. 

I know she had a particular affection for our proud armed forces, our cities and especially with a rural way of life that she understood and admired. It was here, while he was an 18-year-old cadet studying at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, that she met the love of her life and future husband, Prince Philip

In my opinion, nowhere were her jubilees more genuinely celebrated than in our streets, nowhere did her visits receive a warmer welcome. 

As I write we are in a period of mourning but even now there is already much to celebrate from the example she set to us, and many smiles as we remember everything our Queen did for us. 

The pledge she swore to serve her subjects, as a 25 year old who had suddenly lost her father, was one she held sacred until the day she died. What is incredible to me is that she was working just two days before her death, welcoming in a new Prime Minister and enabling the business of Government to continue despite her failing health. 

But perhaps we should not be surprised by this dedication to duty. It was forged while still a Princess as she served in the armed services while this country faced the grim prospect of a Europe run by fascists.  

Her attitude to service and work was exemplified by the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ motto that saw this country though those dark days of the Second World War. For seven decades she provided stability and continuity through times of political upheaval, economic stress, natural disaster and armed conflict from the Middle East to the South Atlantic.  

It is completely right that we should pause normal business to mourn her passing and mark the accession to the throne of King Charles III. The Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel meeting that was due to welcome our new Chief Constable to Plymouth this Friday is among the events that have been postponed. The Temporary Chief Constable and I will be taking part in a series of engagements at which our communities can pay their formal respects, it is a duty I am proud and honoured to be able to carry out especially on behalf of those who may be physically unable to do so.

But I am sure that when the mourning is over the Queen would have wanted us to resume our work with the purpose, vigour, determination and good humour that were her hallmarks.  

The succession of her grandson, Prince William and his wife Princess Kate to the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cornwall means our links to the Royal Family will remain strong.

And as this country faces new challenges from the environment to the energy crisis to the terrible war in Ukraine, we must redouble our efforts to create a safer and more prosperous Commonwealth under the reign of her son, King Charles III. 

God save the King.