Right up until her last days, delicate and noticeably frail, Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday, met her every responsibility with fluency and grace. A paragon of duty and dedication, her final act, just two days before her death, was to grant the U.K.’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, permission to form a new government.
For the legal industry, it was, as it was for most in the U.K., a poignant moment, with senior lawyers reacting almost immediately with outpourings of grief and respect.
Among those paying tribute was Stephen Wilkinson, Herbert Smith Freehills’ managing partner for corporate., who encapsulated the pervasive sense across the sector: “I have not long heard the news and I am only just starting to digest it. I think for many it will be a long time before it properly sinks in. However obvious it was that she was coming to the end of her reign, it is still a shock.”
I. Stephanie Boyce, the president of the Law Society of England and Wales, described the Queen “a defender of the constitution and source of stability in an era of great change”.
Penny Angell, U.K. managing partner at Hogan Lovells, described the Queen as “an inspirational figure” whose “steadfast leadership” she delivered with “such grace and humour”. Kathleen Harris, London managing partner at Arnold & Porter, said the Queen “led with dignity, pride, humility and resilience”.
“She was simply an outstanding Head of State and role model.”
Even among many republicans, The Queen commanded much affection and admiration, owing to her unwavering, almost stoical, commitment to her role, and to her position as an enduring symbol of continuity—an ideal for any leader in law, business, or indeed in general life.
Even as the Royal Family’s popularity waned under a barrage of public scrutiny, The Queen enjoyed wide intergenerational appeal as a person to whom anyone, no matter your political leaning, could look to as an example of calm in the face of adversity, of sophistication in this era of glib, often unfriendly, social media, and of timelessness in a world in which everything from commerce to politics and entertainment moves so quickly.
As Kathleen Russ, senior partner at Travers Smith, said: “I am sure that her example will continue to inspire others in our community, across all walks of life, to embrace a life of service. That will be her greatest legacy.”