IndyCar drivers from British Commonwealth mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II
God save our gracious Queen. Long live our noble Queen. God save the Queen!
MONTEREY, California – When she ascended to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II following the death of her father, George VI on February 6, 1952, these are the words that every member of the vast British Commonwealth knew as their national anthem.
The official coronation was June 2, 1953, and Queen Elizabeth oversaw a vast British Empire. Through colonization of lands around the world, it was once said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire” because somewhere around the world, a nation or a territory was under British control.
That is why the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, has such a profound effect on many drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“She was a wonderful woman,” four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “That is the best way to describe her, an absolutely wonderful woman.”
Franchitti is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and part of the United Kingdom, which also includes England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
But there are 15 countries part of the British Commonwealth including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Soloman Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.
From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was a colony and under British Rule before it agreed to return the massive city to China. South Africa was a British colony until 1961.
The NTT IndyCar Series includes drivers Scott McLaughlin of Christchurch, New Zealand; Scott Dixon of Auckland, New Zealand; Will Power of Toowoomba, Australia; Callum Ilott of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Jack Harvey of Bassingham, United Kingdom, Stefan Wilson of Sheffield, United Kingdom and Devlin DeFrancesco and Dalton Kellett from Toronto, Canada.
Though each nation has a soverign government, Queen Elizabeth II served as the official head of state.
Upon her death, it was the first time those drivers of those respective lands never have had a queen as their official head of state.
Ilott, 23, is among one of the younger drivers in IndyCar. The member of Juncos Hollinger Racing spoke of the magnitude of the moment.
“For me and my mum, she was a symbol of our country,” Ilott said. “She was an icon of what we are, to be British. She was the most British person there was. As a country, her loss is super sad and touched me in ways I couldn’t think of before.
“It’s weird because you would see her on the paper notes, on the coins, you would see her on TV every Christmas day. It was support for the country we will miss very dearly.”
The Monarchy and the Royal Family are one of the things that make the British Empire and the United Kingdom so unique.
Attend an NHL game in Canada, and the Queen’s photo hangs high above the ice in the arena.
“Here’s the simple way with the monarchy, they are there in times of need,” Ilott said. “The country is run by the government itself, but if there is ever anarchy or something, they can step in and take over.
“They are always there. The background support for everyone, whether it is emotional, it’s quite personal to a lot of people in the UK.
“They are the face of me, the face of the country, the face of the flag and for quite a lot of world whether people like it or not.”
Arrow McLaren SP is an IndyCar team that has majority control by McLaren, a racing and automotive brand that was founded by New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren. The McLaren Formula One team is based in Woking, England.
The McLaren Technology Centre was officially opened by the Queen back in 2004, and the team expressed its sadness.
“The team at McLaren Racing mourn the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whilst also remembering her incredible reign. Our thoughts are with The Royal Family and people around the world during this terribly sad time.”
Her Majesty’s death has had an even bigger impact on teams and drivers in Formula One. But many of IndyCar’s top drivers are among the millions mourning the loss of the Queen, who was such a vital part of their culture.
The United Kingdom’s period of official lasts for 10 days though her funeral Monday, Sept. 19.
With the Queen’s passing, her son, King Charles III, has ascended to the throne.
God save our gracious King. Long live our noble King. God save the King!