From 9th September 2015, Biography writers and history books will record the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II as the longest reigning Monarch in History of United Kingdom, surpassing the 63 years, seven months and two days reign of Queen Alexandrina Victoria who ruled Great Britain between 1861 and 1901. As the United Kingdom and the entire world prepares to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s divine gift of royal longevity, it is also important to reflect on the legacies of Queen Victoria, visa vise her leadership qualities and the need for African and Nigeria leaders to imbibe these qualities to enhance good governance for the overall good of the citizens.
Queen Victoria, who ruled over about a quarter of the whole world during her reign left no one in doubt of her compassion, philanthropy and willingness to go the extra mile to reach out to the indigent in her immediate environment and across the world. This she exemplified by her adoption of a Nigerian princess, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a little girl of eight who was orphaned as a result of a brutal massacre of her parents back in Nigeria. “My black godchild” as Queen Victoria often refers to Sarah, was raised and educated, along side the Queen’s children without racial or social discrimination. This is in contrast to what is usually the case among the Nigerian high and mighty. Child or children adopted through this nature are turned into maids or house helps and are often used as slaves. Battery and sexual exploitation of house helps are a widespread vice among the rich. In most cases, except when the adopting guardians have no child or children of their own, adopted children are usually enrolled in less expensive, schools, dressed in inferior quality clothing and are often treated with discrimination.
One of Queen Victoria’s successes is placing a law that banned all women and children from working in mines, due to the hazards and risks therein. Queen Victoria originated the boarding school system and built schools throughout Britain for families that cannot pay for the expensive schools. This rare display of thoughtfulness in providing free education did not only endear her to many, it also went a long way to lift the people from object poverty. In Nigeria, free education has been turned into a mere political slogan. State governors keep introducing “free education” yet parents and guardians are still being asked to pay school fees and classrooms have been reduced to slums because of the neglect of government to fund education.
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It is on record that Queen Victoria always said to her children that “I am not just your mother, I am also your Queen” this style of treating her own offsprings as children and subjects enabled her to pamper them to an extent and also discipline and punish them in line with the laws of the land like every other citizen. Leaders should imbibe this in raising their kids, especially here in Nigeria where children of the high and mighty sees themselves as demi-god, demanding to be treated and respected as their parent. Children of political leaders in Nigeria are simply above the law.
An intelligent leader she was, strong willed and steadfast. Queen Victoria’s “stubborn” approach to governance and decision making, rebuffing every attempt by politicians to control or manipulate her stand her out and reflected in the quality of policies and programs made during her nearly 64 year reign. The Revered Queen Elizabeth II may have successfully surpassed the years of reign of Queen Victoria, but what it really means and how it feels to given an additional title of ‘Empress of India’ which she earned in 1877 and the nickname ‘The Grandmother of Europe’ and rule over 1/4 of the world can only be imagined by her.
The fact that Queen Elizabeth II has overtaken Queen Victoria on this day as United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch is not only symbolic in the history of the British empire, it is also worthy of note for Nigeria in particular and all former colonies of Great Britain in general. Although these two great Queens have many parallels and some marked differences as follows; Victoria and Elizabeth both got married at the age of 21; They were both crowned at the very young age of 18 and 25; Victoria had 9 children and Elizabeth has 4; about 400,000 people gathered in London for Victoria’s coronation, while an estimated 27 million people in Britain watched Elizabeth’s coronation on TV and 11 million listened on the radio; Victoria married prince Albert, while Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh; Victoria oversaw an empire measuring a quarter of the entire globe, while Elizabeth is Head of state of the UK and 15 commonwealth realms; Both Victoria and Elizabeth celebrated diamond jubilee on the thrown and; they both have hundreds of streets named after them within the UK and beyond, for Nigeria, the greatest achievement under Queen Elizabeth II remains our independence under her reign in 1960. Congratulations! Queen Elizabeth II on this rare royal achievement as the longest serving monarch in United Kingdom. Long live the Queen.
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