After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, passed away on Thursday. She was a symbol of stability during a difficult time marked by the fall of the British empire and chaos within her own family. She was 96.
She passed away at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish vacation home, where members of the royal family had hurried to her aid as her health started to deteriorate, according to the palace.
She was the only queen that the majority of Britons had ever known, serving as a connection to the almost extinct generation who fought in World War II.
Prince Charles, her 73-year-old son, officially became monarch and will go by the name King Charles III. Former British kings and queens have chosen new names after ascending to the throne. Camilla, Charles’ second wife, will be referred to as the Queen Consort.
After the prescribed 10 days of mourning, a funeral had to be arranged.
When Elizabeth’s death was announced, the BBC played the national song, “God Save the Queen,” over a photograph of her dressed in all her splendor. As the second Elizabethan era came to an end, the flag above Buckingham Palace was lowered to half-staff.
Her departure will have a profound and unanticipated effect on both the country and the monarchy, an institution she helped modernize and preserve through decades of significant societal upheaval and personal scandals, but whose applicability in the twenty-first century has often been questioned.
The public’s enduring love for the queen has contributed to keeping the monarchy popular despite scandals. Charles is not nearly as well-liked.
Charles expressed his family’s “most grief” on his mother’s passing in a statement, adding that “her loss will be keenly felt across the UK, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless individuals throughout the globe.”
A new prime minister, an energy crisis, double-digit inflation, the conflict in Ukraine, and the consequences of Brexit are all present in Britain at the time of the changing of the guard.
Prime Minister Liz Truss, who had just been in office for 48 hours when the queen appointed her, described the nation as “devastated” and Elizabeth as “the rock on which modern Britain was constructed.”
When authorities delivered a note certifying the queen’s death to the wrought-iron gates of her London residence, British citizens outside Buckingham Palace sobbed. Mourners placed dozens of vibrant flowers at the gates as hundreds quickly gathered in the downpour.
Romy McCarthy, 20, remarked, “As a young person, this is a tremendously important event.” “It signals the end of an era, especially for women. As someone to look up to, we had a powerful lady.
Leaders from throughout the world expressed their sympathies and honored the queen.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, whose eyes were red with emotion as he praised the British queen for her “wisdom, compassion, and kindness,” greeted her as the nation’s head of state. The prime minister of India, once the “jewel in the crown” of the British empire, tweeted: “She exemplified respect and decency in public life. I was hurt by her passing.
She strengthened the fundamental ties between the United States and the United Kingdom, according to U.S. President Joe Biden, who described her as a “stateswoman of incomparable dignity and constancy.”
Since February 6, 1952, Elizabeth has presided over a nation that through a traumatic transition into the twenty-first century, recovered from a devastating and financially draining war, lost its empire, and entered and then left the European Union.
She survived 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Truss, and became a fixture and a symbol. Even for those who despised or disregarded the monarchy, she was a soothing presence.
As she became older and more fragile, she made fewer public appearances and was less well-known during her latter years. But even as Britain celebrated her Platinum Jubilee with days of festivities and pageants in June, she remained firmly in charge of the monarchy and at the center of public life.
In the same month, she passed Louis XIV of France, who ascended to the throne at the age of 4, to become the monarch with the second-longest reign in history. She presided over a ceremony on Tuesday at Balmoral Castle to accept Boris Johnson’s resignation as prime minister and choose Truss as his replacement.
Elizabeth vowed the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that “my entire life, whether it be long or short, should be dedicated to your service” when she was 21 years old, or about five years before she became queen.
She honored her pledge for more than seven decades.
Elizabeth was well liked and continued to serve as the head of state of more than a dozen nations, from Canada to Tuvalu, despite Britain’s complicated and sometimes tense relations with its former colonies. She served as leader of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 nations centered on the former colonies of Great Britain.
Elizabeth was matriarch of a royal family whose problems were a source of curiosity on a worldwide scale, accentuated by fictitious stories like the TV series “The Crown.” She was married to Prince Philip for more than 73 years when he passed away in 2021 at the age of 99. Four children, eight grandkids, and twelve great-grandchildren remain in her life.
She most likely interacted with more people than anybody in history via innumerable public engagements. Her likeness was among the most widely duplicated in the globe and appeared on stamps, coins, and banknotes.
Her innermost thoughts and ideas, though, were mostly a mystery. Few aspects of her personality were revealed to the public. She seldom seemed happier than during the Royal Ascot racing week; she owned horses. She never got sick of her adored Welsh corgi dogs’ company.
On April 21, 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the Duke and Duchess of York’s first child, was born in London. She was not meant to be queen; Prince Edward, her father’s older brother, and any offspring he produced were to inherit the throne.
However, when Elizabeth was 10 years old and Edward VIII abdicated to wed the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, took over.
When Princess Margaret asked her sister whether Elizabeth would become the next monarch, her sister replied that it did. Elizabeth said, “Yes, I think it does,” as reported by Margaret. “She made no more mention of it.”
Elizabeth was a young adolescent when Britain and Germany went to war in 1939. Elizabeth and Margaret spent the most of the war at Windsor Castle, west of the city, while the king and queen remained at Buckingham Palace during the Blitz and visited London’s bombed-out areas. Even there, 300 bombs exploded in a nearby park, and the princesses spent several nights in a refuge below ground.
When she was 14 years old, she made her first public broadcast in 1940, conveying a message to kids who had been evacuated to the country or abroad.
She responded, with a mix of stoicism and optimism that would reverberate throughout her reign, “We youngsters at home are full of happiness and bravery.” “We’re doing all we can to support the brave troops, sailors, and airmen. We are also making an effort to carry our fair part of the risk and sorrow associated with war. Every single one of us is aware that everything will work out in the end.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the heir to the throne, joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a second subaltern in 1945 after months of lobbying for her parents’ approval to contribute to the war effort. She eagerly picked up driving and maintaining huge equipment.
She and Margaret were able to blend in unnoticed with the masses in London on May 8, 1945, the night the war in Europe came to an end. They were “carried forward on a sea of elation and relief,” as she subsequently told the BBC, calling it “one of the most remarkable evenings of my life.”
In November 1947, in Westminster Abbey, she wed Philip Mountbatten, a Royal Navy commander who was also a prince of Greece and Denmark. They had first met in 1939, when she was 13 and he was 18. Street decorations were restricted in postwar Britain due to rationing and economic measures, and no official holiday was observed. However, the bride was given an additional 100 ration coupons for her trousseau.
For a while, the pair resided in Malta, where Philip was posted, and Elizabeth had a somewhat typical life for a naval wife. Prince Charles, the first of their four children, was born in 1948. Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964 came after him.
After years of poor health, George VI passed away in 1952 at the age of 56. While visiting Kenya, Elizabeth was informed that she had become the next queen.
Later, the new queen was “sitting straight, no tears, color up a bit, totally embracing her fate,” according to Martin Charteris, her personal secretary, who found her at her desk.
In a BBC program from 1992, Elizabeth said, “In a sense, I didn’t have an apprenticeship.” This statement provided a rare glimpse into Elizabeth’s feelings. My father passed away much too soon, so everything had to be taken on very quickly while doing the best you could.
More over a year later, millions of people watched the spectacular spectacle of her coronation at Westminster Abbey on the still-evolving technology of television.
Winston Churchill, the prime minister, first lamented that the new queen was “just a kid” after the king’s death, but he quickly changed his mind and later developed a deep affection for her.
In the constitutional monarchy of Britain, the queen is the head of state but has limited actual authority; in her official deeds, she follows directions from the government. She did, however, have some impact. It is said that the queen, who is the head of the Church of England, once said, “I can always declare that I should like more information,” despite the fact that there was nothing legally she could do to stop the appointment of a bishop. The prime minister won’t miss that hint, I’m sure of it.
Though there wasn’t much criticism when Elizabeth was alive, there was sometimes suspicion about the monarch’s political power. Charles has strong ideas on a wide range of topics, including architecture and the environment, therefore his views may be more divisive.
She was required to meet with the prime minister once a week, and they typically thought she was knowledgeable, curious, and up to date. The only probable exception was Margaret Thatcher, who was thought to have lukewarm, if not frigid ties with her, despite neither lady making any comments.
The queen’s opinions expressed during those secret sessions were the focus of intense conjecture and provided fertile ground for playwrights like Peter Morgan, creator of the successful TV series “The Crown” and the play “The Audience.” Those fabricated claims emerged during a time when the royal family’s woes were made public during a period of waning respect and increasing fame.
And “The Firm,” a family-run organization, has a lot of problems of its own. Princess Margaret ignited a national debate during Elizabeth’s early reign by falling in love with a divorced man.
In 1992, which the queen referred to as the “annus horribilis,” her son Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah divorced, Princess Anne got a divorce, Prince Charles and Princess Diana split up. When was also the year that a fire severely devastated Windsor Castle, a home she much preferred over Buckingham Palace.
The tragedy of Diana’s death in a vehicle accident in Paris in 1997 came after the public breakup of Charles and Diana—”There were three of us in that marriage,” Diana stated of her husband’s connection with Camilla Parker Bowles. The queen for once seemed to be out of sync with her subjects.
Many people saw Elizabeth’s lack of a public display of sorrow to be uncaring in the midst of an unprecedented public grieving. She ultimately addressed the country on television after many days had passed.
Her fame took a temporary hit. She had a severe stare and a dazzling grin at this point, and she resembled the nation’s grandma.
Elizabeth was one of the richest individuals in the world, yet she was known for her thrift and common sense. She switched out the lights in vacant rooms and strangled pheasants without hesitation.
Photographs of the royal Tupperware on the breakfast table and a rubber duck in the bathtub taken by a newspaper reporter who pretended to be a palace footman reaffirmed that image of being down to earth.
When a young man pointed a gun at her and fired six blank shots as she passed on a horse in 1981, nor in 1982 when she found a disturbed intruder sitting on her bed at Buckingham Palace, their sangfroid remained unaffected.
The journal Private Eye parodied the queen’s reputation as a model of everyday British decency by referring to her as Brenda, ostensibly because it sounded working-class. Her nickname among monarchists was “Mrs. Windsor.” However, while the queen was still living, the republican movement made only marginal progress.
She said that the nation may “look back with measured pride on the history of the previous 50 years” on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
She said in a speech that the last 50 years had been “quite outstanding by any measure.” Although there have been ups and downs, anybody who can recall what life was like during those six protracted years of war should appreciate the enormous progress made since then.
She was a comforting presence at home and a symbol of Britain abroad, a kind of soft power that was always acknowledged despite the whims of the nation’s political leaders on the international arena. She believed that it was only right that James Bond, another legendary figure, joined her at the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony. She seemed to parachute into the Olympic Stadium thanks to some cinematic trickery.
She surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s 63 years, seven months, and two days of rule in 2015 to become the country’s longest-serving head of state. Even though Prince Charles and his older son, Prince William, progressively took over the visits, ribbon-cuttings, and investitures that make up the majority of royal responsibilities, she continued to labor into her tenth decade.
She somberly sat by herself for Philip’s burial in the chapel of Windsor Castle due to coronavirus limitations, which was a painful reminder of his passing in 2021.
And the issues with the family persisted. Her son Prince Andrew became involved in the shady story of her buddy, the American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender. The claim that Andrew had sexual relations with one of the women who claimed Epstein trafficked her was disputed by Andrew.
Prince Harry, the grandson of the queen, left Britain and his royal responsibilities in 2018 after marrying biracial American TV actress Meghan Markle. In an interview, he said that certain members of the family, although notably not the queen, had not been kind to his wife.
Even though she needed a cane when she made an appearance after Philip passed away, she remained in good health well into her 90s. As you can see, I can’t move, she admitted to guests at a banquet months earlier. The queen was having “episodic mobility challenges,” according to the palace, which declined to provide further information.
She met virtually with diplomats and officials from Windsor Castle, although she made fewer public appearances.
She started making preparations in the meantime for the impending shift. The queen said in February that she wanted Camilla to be addressed as “Queen Consort” when “in the fullness of time” her son succeeded to the throne. It answered a query about the part of the person who some said was responsible for the dissolution of Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage in the 1990s.
Another symbolic act occurred in May when the queen, who has the primary constitutional responsibility for reading the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, invited Charles to do so in her place.
Elizabeth, who herself overcame COVID 19 in February, was once again at the heart of the national mood seven decades after World War II amid uncertainty and sorrow.
She delivered a rare video speech in April 2020, pleading for unity while the nation was under lockdown and Prime Minister Boris Johnson was being treated for the illness in the hospital.
By reciting the lyrics of Vera Lynn’s battle hymn “We’ll Meet Again,” she evoked the spirit of World War II, a crucial period in both her life and the country’s.
“While we may yet have to suffer more, we should be encouraged by the prospect of brighter times ahead. We shall reunite with our buddies. We’ll see our relatives once again. We’ll cross paths again, she assured.