LMH is immensely saddened by the news last night of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The Oxford bells tolled steadily into the night, the darkness in College illuminated by the glow of candlelight from the Chapel windows. All of us here at LMH – Fellows, Support Staff, students - have lived our lives against a steady backdrop of the Queen’s presence. Her model of selfless service and duty, embodied in over seventy years of active public life, is one that many generations of LMH students will have recognised and followed – as teachers, civil servants, missionaries, social workers, in whatever field of work they could employ their talents and energies for the common good. In more recent years, the global perspectives that the Queen’s life afforded, visiting and working in more than 100 countries, have become second nature to many LMH students. The Queen was a figure who gracefully united people of different ages, contexts and backgrounds, and thus represented what Oxford strives to achieve in blending global ambition with civility and humanity.
The LMH archives boast a black and white photograph of the Queen’s visit to LMH in November 1960, when she opened the Erith-designed library which lies at the heart of the College’s academic life. The Brown Book records that 'the visit of Her Majesty the Queen in November was preceded by a whirl of building activity: part of the floor was only laid the night before, and was only just polished in time'. But fortunately, records Mary O'Brien, 'the visit went off very smoothly'. The photograph, showing crowds of eager students hanging over the balcony to catch sight of the young Queen, beautifully dressed in a fur-trimmed velvet coat and turban, captures the glamour and excitement that she generated.
All of us currently working and studying in LMH, from the youngest to the oldest of us, are Elizabethans. We have known no other monarch. The quiet background music, the familiar theme tune, has ended, and it is fitting that we should commemorate that loss.