The death of Queen Elizabeth II is the end of an era for not just the people of Britain but for nearly two billion people of the Commonwealth nations. Considering the standards that she stood for and the values that she upheld, her death is also a shock to the impoverished of the world.
Serving as a head of the Commonwealth for more than 70 years, Queen Elizabeth broke the record for the longest reigning monarch in British history. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was also the longest recorded for any female Head of State. During her reign, she made 247 Commonwealth visits and was the first monarch of the British Queendom to visit Russia.
When Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne at the age of 25, from a young naval wife and mother, her life transformed overnight into a busy Head of State. Over the years, her sense of duty and devotion to the service of the people have been hailed. She was an important figurehead whom the people in both the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth looked up to during times of crisis and celebration.
Only two days before her demise, Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, was spotted in a photograph with Queen Elizabeth II as she accepted the offer to serve as the 15th prime minister of her 70-year long reign. She died at the age of 96 in Aberdeenshire, England, and is succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.
Queen Elizabeth II was born at 2.40 a.m. on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street, London, and christened on May 29 the same year in a private chapel at Buckingham Palace.
Upon the death of her grandfather in 1936 and at the succession of her uncle Edward VIII to the throne, she became second in line for the British throne after her father. Later that year, on December 11, 1936, she became heir apparent to the throne at the age of ten, when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated the throne, and her father George VI became the King. Edward was forced to abdicate the throne after his proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson, a divorced socialite, provoked a constitutional crisis.
Queen Elizabeth became heir apparent only because she had no brothers. If her parents had given birth to a son, he would have been above her in the line of succession, as determined by male-preference primogeniture of that time.
On November 20, 1947, she married a navy lieutenant and a Greek Prince, Philip Mountbatten, at London’s Westminster Abbey. The marriage garnered a fair amount of controversy. Though he was a British subject and had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, Philip Mountbatten was foreign-born, had no financial standing, and had sisters who had been in a marriage with German noblemen with Nazi links.
Marion Crawford, who had been a governess to Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret wrote that many of the King’s advisors thought that he was not good enough for Elizabeth. They looked at him as a prince without a home or a kingdom. Biographers also wrote that Queen Elizabeth’s mother also had reservations and did not favor the union initially. She teased Prince Philip as “The Hun”.
Before the marriage took place, Prince Philip renounced all of his Greek and Danish titles and officially converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism. Eventually, the royal couple had four children together: Prince Charles, born in the year 1948; Princess Anne in 1950; Prince Andrew in 1960; and their fourth born, Prince Edward, in 1964. Their union lasted for more than 73 years until Prince Philip’s death in April 2021.
Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952. The news of her father, King George VI’s death, reached her when she was on tour with her husband, Prince Philip, to Africa and Asia. She was in Kenya when the news of the King’s death reached her on February 6, and she became the first sovereign in more than 200 years to ascend to the throne while herself abroad. She was crowned the following year on June 2, at London’s Westminster Abbey, and the ceremony is known as the first televised coronation in human history.
The Travelling Queen
Queen Elizabeth traveled extensively throughout both UK and overseas. It dominated most parts of her work life. On November 24, 1953, shortly after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth’s first Commonwealth tour covered 43,618 miles.
Even before she had become Queen, she used to say that there is none of my father’s subjects whom she does not wish to greet. Queen Elizabeth was served by 15 Prime Ministers during her reign, from Winston Churchill in 1952 to Liz Truss in 2022.
As the head of the United Kingdom, she hosted over 110 Presidents and Prime Ministers on official visits to Britain. She left a powerful legacy and was the most renowned and beloved monarch in human history. It would not be humanly possible for any of her descendants to fill in her royal shoes!
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