To the greatest British monarch ever | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

The past week has been like no other and although we knew the day would come, we were all shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
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There has been a sombre mood across the whole country as we reflect on her 70 years of service. It will have given the Royal family comfort to see the unifying reaction from the nation and the messages of love, respect and adulation from across the world.

The late Queen Elizabeth II was truly remarkable. Having spent a lifetime on the throne, continuing to carry out her duties even during her final days.

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Her presence, consistency and reliability were reassuring, no more so than when during the pandemic she told us ‘We will meet again’.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab AnwarBurnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

Most people never met her yet everybody I have spoken to over the past week seemed to have a connection and a story to tell.

Her Majesty last visited Burnley in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee, the image of the Royals onboard a barge on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will no doubt be one we look back at as a historic moment for the town.

However as one chapter ends another begins and instantaneously, we move into a new era with a new King. It was therefore an honour to be on the steps of the Harris Museum in Preston alongside friends and colleagues from across Lancashire for the official proclamation of King Charles III in front a packed Flag Market. A truly momentous occasion.

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This was followed by a local proclamation in Burnley, with our own mayor Coun. Cosima Towneley leading the proceedings in the Peace Gardens.

It was wonderful to see so many of you turn out to witness history in the making.

After cancellations last weekend, football saw a return on Tuesday night, and it was fitting that two founding members of the football league, Preston North End and Burnley got their fixtures back underway by observing an exemplary minute’s silence before singing God Save the King. Both sets of fans from these historic Lancashire clubs doing Her Majesty proud.

Although we are in a period of mourning, services still need to be provided and essential council business has continued. Staff at the council need to be commended for the way they have responded and dealt with this whole occasion with sensitivity and respect.

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Books of condolence have been made available at the Town Hall and Towneley Hall and will remain open until Tuesday.

There will also be a special commemoration service for East Lancashire at St Peters Church in Burnley on Saturday at 11am. This will be followed by a National Moment of Reflection at 8pm on Sunday and people can, if they wish, continue to lay flowers at the Peace Gardens.

We hope you can pay your respects in any way you wish, with your families on Monday, to mark the state funeral of the greatest British monarch ever.