Yesterday our queen died. Queen Elizabeth II was catapulted into this role three years before I was born, so she has been in my whole life until now.

I have mixed feelings about monarchy and the wealth and privilege it gifts to a few, especially when so many in our country are suffering from the poverty, homelessness and despair forced on them by bad government and corporate greed.

That said, I have total respect for a woman who rose to the challenges of her role, showing great commitment, compassion and humility throughout her 70 years of service, even showing up for duty the day before she died, reaching out to welcome Liz Truss with a badly bruised hand (possibly from medical interventions in the last day or so as her health failed).

Watching the endless TV coverage I surprised myself with leaking eyes…the Queen was 96 years old and had enjoyed “a good innings” as we would say up north. She’d lived a full life, jam-packed with opportunities for her and her family that most of us could only dream of, albeit on the back of an inherited bloody history and the very human trials within her own house.

Yet, as we watched her publicly ageing and becoming frailer in recent years, she reminded me so much of my own mum who died in 2016, a few months before her 99th birthday. Mum was always taking care of others, always taking pride in her appearance, always in service, always in control. She was a strong independent role model for me, having raised me pretty much as a single mum from when I was about eight years old and my dad first got sick. She managed the home and worked to bring in extra money to support our needs, until dad died just before my 15th birthday.

In fact I’d already lost my mum when she was 96, after she’d collapsed at her home and spent several weeks in hospital, initially unconscious but then up and about with physio, until she had a fall and was back in bed again. She surprised everyone by recovering enough to be discharged into a nursing home for her last three years. Sometimes she’d need a few days in hospital and her hands would have the tell-tale bruising of medical staff searching for a decent vein. Her independence was gone forever and dementia finished the job of obliterating the strong woman I had always known. Never very tall, at her death she was tiny, shrunken and hollow. All gone.

The legacy a strong woman leaves behind cannot be underestimated and we all have the capacity for that, even on the days we don’t believe it’s possible.

I am personally grateful for the two mums who created me, for their strength and courage, for their immeasurable love and sacrifice.

In mourning the transition of our monarch I give thanks for all women who truly lead from the heart.

Photo credits HRH: Town & Country, Imperial War Museum