20th September 22
We have now had two full weeks of term, and there is a happy and purposeful bustle around school as our students settle back into the rhythms and routine of school life, resilient in the face of the country’s sadness. It has been an extraordinary and historic fortnight since we returned to school after the long summer holidays. We went back to school (it seems like an age ago) with the news of a new Prime Minister, a new cabinet, a new Education Secretary and the death of our gracious and noble Queen, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The entire school community came together for the beginning of term assembly, where we welcomed back our returners, met the new Student Council, and introduced our new staff. One of our new students, Mahmood, played a piano solo to the community where you could hear a pin drop in the atrium – courageous and mesmerising; it set the tone for the year. We then came together again as a whole school community to commemorate the death of Her Majesty in an emotional tribute.
I learned of The Queen’s death in a Board meeting on Thursday, 8 September, as the news flashed up on my phone, and I confess to having spent the best part of the past week in a mournful mode as the impact has hit of the loss which we have collectively experienced. Her Majesty The Queen was a phenomenal woman who had (as has been brought home to us all) an extraordinary impact on the world through her commitment to tirelessly carrying out her duties. Although feared and anticipated for so long, her death was nonetheless a shock to us all through its suddenness, and I know from speaking to countless friends and colleagues across the world that I am not alone. The global media coverage, huge crowds, the pageantry and ceremony, floral tributes, bank holidays, memorial services, the long queues – these all speak volumes of how our Queen was held in such high regard and affection around the world.
Of course, there is a re-commitment to the future, too – King Charles III has stepped into the monarch’s role and has taken on the mantle of his remarkable mother. How lucky are we to be alive at this moment in history? Whatever people think or feel about the concept of a monarchy, there can be no denying that our constitutional monarchy has the ability to speak to people and bring people together in ways that are deeply powerful and sustaining.
The words of the (new) Prince of Wales on Saturday, 10 September, struck a powerful chord with me and reflected what we are trying to do here at DLD. In paying tribute to his beloved grandmother, he thanked her for providing an example to his generation – and, arguably, all generations. This example, for him, was one of “service and dignity”, and these words reflected precisely what his grandmother embodied. We should represent these old-fashioned values and not let them slip away unnoticed. Serving others, caring about others, and seeking to make a difference to the lives of others is something we should all do. This was, in essence, what The Queen did. Her Majesty was an incredible role model in her service and in her dignity.
“Grief is the price we pay for love” said our late Queen, and we loved her for it; let us grieve for now and re-commit to loving more in every aspect of our lives and with all of those around us. Those values of tolerance, respect and kindness that we hold dearly at DLD mean more now than ever. And let us do so with a renewed commitment to serving others and conducting ourselves with dignity – what a tribute to The Queen and her legacy that would be.
Irfan Latif, Principal