“Devoted to your service”
"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong." Her Majesty The Queen, in a speech given on her 21st birthday in 1947.
The nation is mourning the passing of Her Majesty the Queen who died at Balmoral on 8 September.
Among her rich and varied range of interests was a deep passion for the British countryside, for shooting, fishing and gundogs.
Her Majesty was born on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather King George V. She was not initially expected to take the throne as her uncle, who ruled briefly as Edward VIII, was widely expected to have an heir. However this did not come to pass and his abdication saw Princess Elizabeth become heir apparent. At the outbreak of the Second World War plans were drawn up to evacuate both her and her sister Princess Margaret to Canada. However her mother refused to contemplate the idea saying: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.” It was an example of service which was to stay with Her Majesty throughout her life and reign.
On 20 November 1949 she married naval officer and devoted sportsman Philip Mountbatten. Prince Phillip went on to become Prince Consort when Her Majesty took the throne following the death of her father in 1952.
Her father, grandfather and husband were all keen Shots and both as a princess and as Queen shooting was always part of her life. Her Majesty’s renowned love of dogs saw her picking up on shoot days on the royal estates at Sandringham and Balmoral. In 2000 controversy erupted after she was spotted dispatching a pheasant by breaking its neck and in 2004 she was again photographed dispatching a bird with blows to its head. On both occasions those with a practical knowledge of the countryside praised her swift and humane actions and the Palace defended her saying she had acted “as would any other responsible country sports person”
Her gundogs were among the most successful dogs in the country, repeatedly taking field trial championships and as recently as January this year her dog FTCh Wolferton Drama took first place at the cocker spaniel championships.
News of Her Majesty’s passing was met with sorrow by all of the nation’s shooting and countryside organisations. A spokesperson for BASC said: “Her Majesty was a passionate supporter of the countryside and conservation. She loved her gundogs and enjoyed many days working them in the field throughout her life. Her Majesty’s dedication to this country set her apart from all others. She will be sorely missed.”
Gamekeepers from the Grampian Moorland Group which includes Balmoral also paid tribute. The keepers, many of whom worked alongside Her Majesty on shoot days, closed their tribute with the words “God Save The King” a sentiment endorsed by the entire shooting community.