Tributes paid to Queen Elizabeth II

Optical bodies, healthcare organisations and charities have shared their reflections on the death of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen
Getty/Chris Jackson
Tributes have been paid to Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday 8 September at the age of 96

The UK’s longest-serving monarch came to the throne in 1952 and reigned for 70 years.

The Queen’s son and heir, the former Prince of Wales now becomes King Charles III

On the announcement, AOP chairman, Dr Julie-Anne Little, paid tribute on behalf of members, commenting: “We extend our most sincere condolences to the Royal Family at this time.”

“During her 70-year reign, Her Majesty’s dignified service and unshakable integrity have been an inspiration for millions of people across the world. She leaves a profound mark and will be missed deeply.”

Little continued: “We pay tribute to her lifetime of devoted service to our nation and Commonwealth, which leaves an enduring legacy.”

Organisations, businesses and charities across optometry, healthcare and social work have shared their condolences, as well as reflections on the life of Queen Elizabeth.

The newly-appointed Prime Minister, Liz Truss, gave an address on Thursday evening, sharing: “The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world. Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built.”

The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Thérèse Coffey also expressed her condolences, sharing: “Earlier this year the nation celebrated her Platinum Jubilee with much love and joy, recognising her decades of service.”

She leaves a profound mark and will be missed deeply

Dr Julie-Anne Little, AOP chairman

Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, made a comment on behalf of the NHS, sharing: “The Queen dedicated her life to public service and it was our proudest moment when she awarded NHS staff the George Cross earlier this year, for their compassion and courage over the last 74 years, but particularly during the pandemic.”

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists also made a statement recognising: “As the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch, the Queen’s dedication to duty and unwavering service to the country and the Commonwealth is recognised by everyone around the world.”

A minute’s silence was held at the beginning of the 2022 Admissions Ceremony today, (9 September) in recognition.

A history of patronage

The Queen at RNIB
A black and white photo of the Queen smiling as she touches a tactile globe during a visit to RNIB in 1955. Image credit: RNIB
The Queen was a patron of more than 600 charities during her lifetime. 

This included Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which shared in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Patron of Moorfields Eye Hospital.”

“The Queen visited the hospital on a number of occasions, most recently in 2007 to open our Children’s Centre,” the statement continued. The Queen made her first royal visit to the hospital on 7 March 1955.

RNIB chief executive, Matt Stringer, extended his sympathies to the Royal Family.

“Her Majesty became RNIB’s Patron upon her accession to the throne in 1952 and during this time made a tremendous contribution to our work,” he emphasised.

“Her Majesty was a passionate advocate for the rights of blind and partially sighted people and generously hosted many receptions on behalf of our organisation,” Stringer highlighted.

“We are immensely grateful for Her Majesty’s longstanding support which has made such a difference to the lives of people with sight loss across the UK,” he concluded.

Her Majesty was a passionate advocate for the rights of blind and partially sighted people

Matt Stringer, RNIB chief executive

A statement from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) reflected on the loss of the hospital’s patron.

The Queen visited GOSH during 1952 for the hospital’s centenary celebrations and again in 2002 to mark its 150th anniversary in the year of her Golden Jubilee. She became patron of GOSH in 1965.

“It was in her role as patron she sent a letter of thanks to charitable supporters of GOSH following The Independent and London Evening Standard’s Give to GOSH appeal, in 2015 which raised over £3 million,” the statement recounted.

“The letter, signed by 'Elizabeth R', said, ‘As one of the world's leading children's hospitals, Great Ormond Street offers a beacon of hope to thousands of children from across the U.K. and beyond every year’.”

The Queen
The Queen opening Commonwealth House in 1971, the Sightsavers new head office in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
The Queen was also Patron of the charity, Sightsavers, with Dr Caroline Harper, CEO, sharing: “Sightsavers will remember with affection the support we received from Her Majesty’s patronage. From endorsing our work by granting our royal status, to visiting our headquarters and meeting our staff, she showed great commitment and gave tremendous validity to our cause.”

Harper added that the charity was proud to have worked with The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to secure a legacy in the Queen’s honour, “by making a major contribution to eliminating blinding trachoma within the Commonwealth.”

Blind Veterans UK expressed its condolences to those mourning in a statement, adding: “As Patron of this charity from 1952 to 2016, the Queen will always hold a special place in our hearts and the history of Blind Veterans UK.”

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex took over patronage of the charity from the Queen in 2016, as she reduced her public roles.

The Queen visited the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton in 1965 and 1985. The charity noted in its statement that, “one of her final acts as Patron was to allow the charity to mark our centenary with a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2015. Her tireless service to this charity, this country, and the world will never be forgotten and we thank her today.”

She was certainly my role model above all others, and I shall treasure the times I met her

Dame Mary Perkins

Charities recognise a “lifetime of dedication”

Macular Society chief executive, Cathy Yelf, reflected that many people living in the UK will not have known a life without the Queen.

“This will be a great loss for the entire country. Many of our supporters who have grown up around a similar time to Queen Elizabeth II will no doubt feel this loss very deeply. We are so thankful to her for a lifetime of dedication to great causes, not least her support for sight loss charities,” she said.

A statement from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness described the Queen as a “defining figure” in the UK, commonwealth and internationally for nearly a century.

“Her sense of duty and devotion to a life of service has set an unprecedented example, not least through her involvement in over 600 charities and organisations throughout her time as Monarch,” the statement noted.

Personal reflections

Retired Scottish optometrist, Donald Cameron, OBE, recalled meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip at a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

“She walked the double helix of guests receiving the prompts of her Gentlemen at Arms without a break in her step, then to begin a conversation as if she had studied one’s biography prior to the meeting,” he recalled.

Cameron observed that she has passed this skill on to Prince William, who Cameron met when he received his OBE.

“To appear genuinely interested in the lives of so many people while only meeting them each for a minute is a remarkable gift shared with those so favoured by their attention,” he said.

Cameron reflected that in Scotland the sense of loss following the death of the Queen will “perhaps be more nuanced” than in other parts of the UK.

To appear genuinely interested in the lives of so many people while only meeting them each for a minute is a remarkable gift

Donald Cameron, OBE

Dame Mary Perkins, who met the Queen several times, shared her sadness following the death of the Monarch.

“The Queen has always been someone I have looked up to right from the day of her Coronation. Her kindness to everyone was indisputable. Her dedication to her country has been flawless and her joy in life has always shone through,” she said.

“She was certainly my role model above all others, and I shall treasure the times I met her,” Perkins reflected.

Ruth Perrott, who received an MBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours, reflected: “Those of us with only four digits to our GOC number will have been born around the time of her Coronation. Having now fulfilled her commitment at that great occasion, she leaves a legacy of sincerity, commitment, sympathy, empathy and dedication to her calling.”

Perrott shared that the Queen symbolised stability.

“Through both good and difficult times, she will be remembered smiling, and taking a deep interest in each individual she met. Like most of my contemporaries, I still hold her in high regard, and she will be deeply missed,” she said.