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UK Diplomat Catherine Arnold visits University

The University of Notre Dame welcomed Catherine Arnold as a guest speaker at the Eck Visitor Center on Sept. 12.

Arnold is a British academic administrator and former UK diplomat. Since Oct. 2019, she has been the Master of St Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge. Arnold is the fifteenth person to hold that post and the first woman.

After being introduced by vice president and associate provost for internationalization, Michael Pippenger, Arnold gave a speech reflecting on the roles of academic institutions and religion in shaping ethical, global leaders.

Arnold used the example of the recently late Queen Elizabeth II of England to reflect on change and constancy.

“’I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,’” she quoted from the British monarch. “Even before taking the reins of power, she proved to be an exemplary leader.”

Arnold said she believed human nature was the primary obstacle to leadership and unity.

“As technology changes all around us, humans remain stubbornly constant,” she told the audience.

She specifically provided one of her alma maters, Cambridge, as an example of how allowing a Catholic influence through its St. Edmund’s college would strangle free thought.

“Both [the church and the college] had a fear of change,” Arnold commented. “It is not enough to hold a world-class degree… indeed, there is more room in educational establishments other than just academic fundamentals.”

She followed by saying that Notre Dame is a leading example of how the combination of mind and heart can be accomplished.

Pippenger said he sees this theme at work in his duties overseeing Notre Dame international gateways and their goal to attract parts of the world not traditionally attracted. He said he calls Notre Dame an “experiment of globalization.”

Through discussion, Arnold and Pippenger said they agreed that by going out into the world and training to be a global citizen, students can recognize how religion plays into education, free speech, public policy, ethical business practice and other areas.

Arnold said she hopes Notre Dame will foster more “conscious leaders.” She said she believes that it is crucial to train leaders who understand their impact on others and that a conscious leader must be comfortable and resolved in making decisions that exclude others.

“The more power you have, the more you realize that there is often no right or wrong answer; you almost always exclude someone,” she explained.

Arnold also was able to provide the Observer with some guidance for Notre Dame students, connecting her lecture themes with real-world advice.

“Don’t ever listen to just one person’s piece of advice,” she said. “Seek out different people’s perspectives, and then continue to press both them and yourself with existential ‘why’ and ‘so what’ questions.”

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University students in London react to Queen Elizabeth II’s death

LONDON — Outside Buckingham Palace Thursday evening, a crowd began to gather. A press release from the palace earlier that day revealed Queen Elizabeth’s doctors were concerned for her health and advised her to stay under medical supervision while she stayed at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. 

“I was surprised when I heard the news, but I honestly thought she was going to be okay,” Toby Kult, a Notre Dame junior who is part of the London Global Gateway program this semester, said. “Everyone was freaking out, but I thought she was going to pull through because she’s the queen and she’s immortal.”

But at exactly 6:30 p.m., the Union Jack that flies above Buckingham Palace was lowered to half mast, and an official announcement from the palace was fixed upon its gates. 

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the statement read. “The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and return to London tomorrow.”

Upon her death at age 96, Queen Elizabeth II was both the longest-lived British monarch and the longest-ruling monarch in British history. She ascended to the throne in 1952 and was subsequently coronated in 1953.

On Feb. 6, 2022, she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, honoring her 70-year reign. Within this time frame, she held the throne through major world events such as the end of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the end of the apartheid in South Africa, the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The longevity of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign touches the hearts of many British citizens, including Notre Dame junior Arabella Baker and her family. 

“The queen was like no other world leader because other leaders have an expiration date,” Baker said. “She’s been a leading figure when it comes to helping the country move forward through times of trouble. She was a resilient figure, and I think that’s why she meant so much to the British people.”

According to Bloomberg News, a woman laid the first bouquet of flowers in front of the palace at 5 p.m. on Thursday. By 8 p.m., there were thousands of people gathered outside the palace.

Caitlin Papalia, a Notre Dame junior studying in London this semester, went to Buckingham Palace with other Notre Dame students soon after the death of the queen had been announced. 

“The mood was very solemn. It was an unspoken thing that a really big thing had happened,” Papalia said. “I’ve been at Buckingham Palace in the past when there’s a lot of noise and bustle, but this was completely different.” 

The crowd gathered outside Buckingham Palace Thursday night. Credit: Gabby Beechert, The Observer.

Mourners pushed through a tightly-packed crowd to place flowers outside the front gates. Those who couldn’t push through passed their bouquets to the front. Despite the size of the crowd, there was not much noise. The crowd stayed even as it began to pour. Instead of leaving, mourners opened their umbrellas and put up their hoods. 

Buckingham Palace announced that the former queen’s funeral will take place Monday, Sept. 19 in Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. During the four-day period before the funeral, the queen’s casket will lie in state in Westminster Hall, giving the public the opportunity to pay their respects. The date of the funeral has also been declared a bank holiday by her eldest son, now King Charles III.

Contact Gabby Beechert at gbeecher@nd.edu.