Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, reigned for 70 years. She ascended to the throne in 1952, and in her tenure as head of state, she has seen the United Kingdom through so much. From the growth of the Commonwealth, the UK’s modernisation post-war and the UK entry and withdrawal from the European Union.

Before her reign as Queen, Elizabeth spent 5 months with the Auxiliary Territorial Service and worked as a mechanic in 1945. After the war, she married Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, and were married for 74 years before his death in 2021, aged 99.

During her reign, the Queen had 15 Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, and ending with Liz Truss. This year, the country was able to witness her Platinum Jubilee Celebration, for her 70 years of service and life.

In her life, Queen Elizabeth witnessed and participated in many historic and unprecedented moments. From the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which over 20 nations declared independence from Britain and dismantling the Empire, to the entry of the UK into the European Union in 1973 – and it’s withdrawal in 2020, and when in 2011, Queen Elizabeth became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland.

For Fast Forward 15, the Queen has a special place. Fay Sharpe, head of the FF15 programme, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2022 Queen’s New Honour List, for her commitment to female mentorship, as demonstrated through the programme. You can read more about that here.

The royal family, the monarchy and the Queen represent a multitude of things to each person. Mainly, she has been an icon in a world run by men, and we are unlikely to see a Queen as our Head of State in our lifetimes.

Here are some of the Fast Forward 15 mentee’s thoughts on what the Queen meant to them:


Hayley Nicholson

I grew up in bases across the UK and Germany whilst my Dad served as an engineering officer and my Mum as a medic in the Royal Air Force. For me, the Queen has always been an iconic symbol for what it means to be British. Her passing is the end of an era, and she will be very missed. To me, her commitment to her duty is incredibly inspiring, and I cannot think of anyone else that can match her dedication shown through her service to the UK and the Commonwealth.


Grace Louisy

I’ve always loved and respected the Queen. Regardless of political views, whether you’re a royalist or a republican, the Queen’s duty, service and ability to manage turmoil is admirable. There’s a lot to be learned of her leadership style: kind, considered, but not without a voice or opinion. She’s made a positive impact on everyone she met, which is no mean feat in 70 years!


Adele Garrick

Queen Elizabeth II for me was a symbol of female empowerment, and now she has passed away we are very unlikely to have another female monarch of Britain for the remainder of our live, which is such a shame. She was a strong symbol of our country’s strength and identity, which I don’t think can be mirrored by a future monarch.