As a Councillor with two army barracks in his Ward, I never need any reminder of the respect people across the UK had for HM The Queen.
One of my proudest moments was shaking her hand in 2018 at Holyrood Palace when I was part of a group of Councillors welcoming her to Edinburgh. Of course, I was too nervous to even speak so failed to invite her to my Ward(!). I performed the same duty two further times, and each time I was impressed by her attention to detail, and the grace with which she conducted herself.
The 2022 ceremony was one of her last public events. I had read reports of her failing health, but was reassured when I saw her bright eyes and broad smile.
I accepted the news of her death with great sadness, but I also felt grateful for the many years of service HM The Queen gave the UK and the Commonwealth. The 48 hours she spent in Edinburgh so soon after her death, however, also left me feeling immensely proud that Edinburgh did not let down HM The Queen when the whole world was watching. I have never been prouder to say I am a citizen of Edinburgh.
In my time as a Councillor I have attended three street parties associated with HM The Queen and her reign. These were not gatherings of ardent monarchists where God Save the Queen was sang, but a chance for communities to come together. At these events, HM The Queen was like some sort of distant relative that we all shared and gave us all something in common. What we have seen across the UK since her death reinforced this view.
Throughout her reign HM The Queen encouraged us to focus on what we had in common, not what divided us. Her death has only amplified that message. It may sound hopelessly naïve, but I hope that can be her lasting legacy.