Queen Elizabeth II’s record-breaking reign is gone. She was the only monarch most of her subjects had ever known. At Balmoral Castle, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor passed away on Thursday. She was 96.
The king is still alive, the queen is dead. In the near future, bells will ring and cannon salutes will be fired across the United Kingdom to commemorate the demise of one monarch and the ascension of the new one.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, her 73-year-old eldest child and heir, ascended to the throne right away after her passing.
Elizabeth served as a beacon of stability while Britain and her 1,000-year-old monarchy navigated the turbulent seas of the modern era, including a deadly pandemic, as the 41st monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066.
Elizabeth was in good health for the majority of her life, but in recent months she had been struggling with residual “mobility difficulties.” She gradually transferred responsibilities from the recreational to the constitutional to her eldest son and successor, Prince Charles. She never missed the Braemar Gathering, the annual Highland Games, during her reign, but last week she was unable to go.
She oversaw the changeover of one prime minister to a new one on Tuesday, performing a constitutional obligation as head of state at Balmoral for the first time during her rule.
However, the palace said on Wednesday that due to the doctor’s orders to rest, she will not be able to join the Privy Council meeting via Zoom, the permanent council of senior governmental advisers. New Cabinet ministers would have been sworn in at the same time as new Prime Minister Liz Truss took the oath of office. The gathering was put off.
She also skipped important engagements during the course of the four days she spent celebrating her Platinum Jubilee of 70 years as monarch.
On November 14, she was scheduled to participate in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony honoring the British war dead, but she withdrew that morning due to a back injury. She postponed all engagements for several weeks in October after spending a night in the hospital for “preliminary investigations” that Buckingham Palace would explain. These engagements included trips to Scotland and Northern Ireland that were scheduled.
The palace disclosed in February that she had tested positive for COVID-19, two weeks after commemorating the 70th anniversary of her accession to the queen in 1952. The queen revealed to her guests during an audience in the middle of February that she had trouble “moving,” which resulted in “ongoing mobility” problems, according to Buckingham Palace, which prohibited some appearances, including the State Opening of Parliament on May 10.
She had only twice in her whole reign missed this crucial head-of-state position due to pregnancy, but this was the first time she had Charles and his older son, Prince William, officially step in for her.
Her 73-year marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away on April 9, 2021, at Windsor Castle at the age of 99, narrowly missed his 100th birthday, preceded her. In the previous ten centuries, he was the oldest and most enduring royal husband in Britain.
In St. George’s Chapel at Windsor for a beautiful ceremony attended by only 30 members of his family due to COVID-19 restrictions, the queen was captured in moving photographs alone and disguised. She made her first significant public appearance following her COVID-19 diagnosis at the end of March when she presided over a service of thanksgiving for the life of her late husband at Westminster Abbey with her family, numerous foreign royals, and hundreds of prominent Britons.
But for now, Britain was getting ready to lament.
A fitting funeral is planned for the devoted and loyal woman who vowed to serve her country at the age of 21 and never wavered in her role as the living embodiment of the British people.
Elizabeth II’s legendary reign
She served as Britain’s head of state and constitutional figurehead for many years while never truly ruling. When her father, King George VI, passed away on February 6, 1952, at the age of 56, she ascended to the throne. She wasn’t even 25.
She had just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee of 60 years on the throne, making her the oldest and longest-reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years before passing away in 1901.
More than half of the population of Britain today has never known a different monarch to sit on their throne or to issue their coins, banknotes, or postage stamps. A quiet, even shy young woman rose to become the most renowned person in the world and the most photographed and portrayed person in history. During her reign, she is claimed to have met and shaken hands with at least 4 million people.
She took over a sun-never-sets empire that was just beginning to fall apart, presided over its final dissolution into a Commonwealth of nations that looked to her as their leader, and was fiercely loyal to her till the bitter end. She served as Britain’s stern face during the Cold War, the 20th century’s post-World War II recovery, and the final days of the empire.
She remained a constant through the kaleidoscopic changes as the 20th century roared into the 21st: the growth of television, Beatlemania, Britain’s demographic transformation to multiethnic society, and the rise of a celebrity culture that ensnared nearly every member of her family. She always carried a handbag on her arm.
She embraced the digital era with a palace website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and even a royal channel on YouTube. She changed with the changes, but she didn’t change on the key things, like keeping a respectful quiet.
What transpires following Queen Elizabeth’s passing?
The queen’s fidelity to duty is highlighted by biographers as both her most significant personal and professional quality, raising concerns about how long the monarchy would last without her.
Even the monarchy’s adversaries, known as republicans in Britain, admitted to admiring the queen. They view the monarchy as a wealthy, privileged hereditary institution that has no place in a contemporary democracy; they attribute her to not only rescuing it but also reviving its once-dying popularity.
According to Robert Lacey, a British historian, and biographer who has authored four books on the queen, “she will be remembered for keeping the British monarchy functioning through the 20th and into the 21st century — and for leaving it in better health.” “She had a strong sense of obligation and accountability. That would eventually work to her advantage and attractiveness.”
Elizabeth’s sense of responsibility was formed early in her infancy through the monarchy’s worst modern crisis: her uncle King Edward VIII’s resignation from the throne in 1936. The issue surrounding the abdication was kept out of the public eye by the government and palace for almost a full day before it occurred, which startled Britain. Both commoners and dukes saw it this way:
The dramatic impact on 10-year-old Elizabeth, according to Lacey, was that duty became her guiding principle moving forward. The queen, in contrast to Edward, vowed never to renounce the position she was forced into by birth and put the kingdom and country in peril.