The Queen

Queen's death 'a personal loss to the Armed Forces', former head of British Army says

The former head of the British Army has expressed how much the death of the Queen will be felt as a personal loss for the men and women of the Armed Forces.

General Lord Richard Dannatt has also paid tribute to Her Majesty's dedication to duty to the very end of her life.

Lord Dannatt, who was Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009 and a soldier who served in the British Army for 40 years following his commission into the Green Howards in 1971, explained that the personal relationship that the Queen had with her Armed Forces was far more than an academic or historical link.

He said it was a relationship of "real substance" and that her loss would be felt personally by all those who serve or who have served.

Speaking to Forces News, Lord Dannatt also paid tribute to how the Queen did her duty, setting an extraordinary example, right up until the end of her life.

He said she met her obligations as monarch to welcome in the newly-appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss, and bid farewell to the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, only 48 hours before she passed away.

General Lord Dannatt ARCHVIE CREDIT BFBS
Lord Dannatt expressed his personal regret at the death of the Queen.

Lord Dannatt expressed more of such sentiments in an opinion piece for The Telegraph newspaper, saying: "It was with the greatest and most personal regret that members of the Armed Forces learnt of the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

"With the greatest regret – albeit one shared by the whole nation – because our beloved and longest-serving Monarch had died.

"But with the most personal regret because for members of the Armed Forces, the Queen was our Commander in Chief to whom each of us on our joining the Royal Navy, the Army or the Royal Air Force had sworn an Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty.

"That makes it a personal loss for soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and marines.

"It was for her as Sovereign that we were prepared to risk life and limb – not for the Government, but for Her Majesty and the people of this country. 

"Some might think that such a personal relationship was a rather academic or historical link, but it has real substance," he added.

He said that the Queen, with the help of other members of the Royal Family, took her honorary duties very seriously, forming very close associations with all areas of the Armed Forces, from the Royal Navy ships to the British Army regiments and the squadrons of the Royal Air Force.

Lord Dannatt also said that the Queen's willingness to serve her country in uniform during the Second World War "was the start point of the loyalty owed to her, buttressed by the oath that we all swore", adding: "Yet it was her example of leadership that inspired us all to continue in the most difficult of circumstances, whether at Suez, in the jungles of Borneo, in the South Atlantic or on the Falklands, in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, or more recently in Iraq or Afghanistan."

He suggested that, for some, it would take a little understanding of the motto of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where all British Army officers begin their training, which is "Serve to Lead".

However, he said the dedication of the late Queen to her duties and to her subjects "formed the perfect example to be emulated and followed".

Speaking of that dedication to duty, Lord Dannatt told Forces News: "She bade farewell to the outgoing Prime Minister, she ceremonially kissed hands with the new Prime Minister, and 48 hours later, she had died – she was doing her duty, right up to the end.

"I think that is an extraordinary example and an inspiring example which, I think, will be her legacy, and it's an inspiration that we would all do well to follow, to do our duty as best as we can in her memory."


Flowers laid by those mourning the death of the Queen outside Buckingham Palace on Friday morning.
Flowers laid by those mourning the death of the Queen outside Buckingham Palace on Friday morning.

He echoed these tributes to the Queen in his opinion piece in The Telegraph, saying: "How easy would it have been for her while on holiday at Balmoral to have asked the then Prince of Wales to have represented her in bidding farewell to Boris Johnson as prime minister and then undertake the symbolic kissing of hands with Liz Truss as she assumed the role.

"But the Queen did her duty to the last – she served her people throughout her life and thereby earned the right to lead them.

"That is sacrificial leadership of the highest quality and such an inspiring example to follow," he added.

He also expressed how, amid the sadness surrounding the death of the Queen, "the highlights and memories of the past must not be forgotten", pointing out that many would have personal, fond memories of "the tongue-tied panic" of meeting the Queen but also of realising that she had a human warmth which many would have relished,

Others would have personal recollections, he said, of many of the parades, ceremonial events or more of the vast array of public duties that she carried out, adding: "These memories captured in films, photographs and paintings will endure in perpetuity just as will the pride in the hearts of many a service man or woman who has had a medal pinned on their chests by Her Majesty."

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