Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96; King Charles III takes the throne

Written by on September 8, 2022

The longest-ever reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the only monarch most of her subjects have ever known, is over. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor died Thursday at Balmoral Citadel, her property in Scotland. She was 96.  

The palace issued a black-bordered assertion about 6.30 p.m. native time: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will stay at Balmoral this night and can return to London tomorrow.”

Her eldest son and inheritor, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, 73, immediately became King Charles III upon her dying. His spouse grew to become Queen Consort Camilla

Buckingham Palace issued one other black-bordered assertion from “His Majesty the King,” shortly after her dying. 

“The dying of my beloved Mom, Her Majesty The Queen, is a second of the best unhappiness for me and all members of my household,” the assertion stated. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mom. I do know her loss will likely be deeply felt all through the nation, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by numerous individuals all over the world.  

“Throughout this era of mourning and alter, my household and I will likely be comforted and sustained by our data of the respect and deep affection by which The Queen was so extensively held.”

Because the 41st monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066, Elizabeth was the image of stability as Britain and its 1,000-year-old monarchy sailed by means of roiling storms of the trendy age, together with a lethal pandemic.

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Queen Elizabeth II waves as she leaves after attending the ceremonial opening of the sixth Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, in Cardiff, Wales, on Oct. 14, 2021.

Elizabeth loved sturdy well being most of her life, however lingering “mobility points” affected her in current months. She more and more handed over duties to Charles, from the leisure to the constitutional. Final week, she couldn’t attend the annual Highland Games, the Braemar Gathering, which she by no means missed all through her reign.

On Tuesday she presided over the transition of one prime minister to a brand new one, a constitutional obligation as head of state which passed off at Balmoral for the primary time in her reign.

However on Wednesday, the palace introduced she would not be able to attend via Zoom the meeting of the Privy Council, the standing committee of senior governmental advisers, after medical doctors’ orders to relaxation.

She additionally missed vital appearances in June throughout the four days of celebration of her Platinum Jubilee of 70 years on the throne. 

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In February, two weeks after marking the 70 anniversary of her ascension to the throne in 1952, the palace introduced she had examined optimistic for COVID-19. Throughout an viewers in mid-February, the queen talked about to her guests that she had difficulty “moving,” resulting in “ongoing mobility” points, as Buckingham Palace put it, that prevented some appearances, together with the State Opening of Parliament on Could 10.

She had missed this vital head-of-state position solely twice earlier than throughout her reign, each for pregnancies, however for the primary time she formally delegated Charles to face in for her, accompanied by his elder son, Prince William.   

She was preceded in dying by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 73 years, who died April 9, 2021, at Windsor Citadel at age 99, simply in need of his 100th birthday. He was Britain’s oldest and longest-serving royal partner in 10 centuries. 

His funeral yielded poignant footage of the queen, alone and masked, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor for a chic service attended by solely 30 members of his household amid COVID-19 restrictions. On the finish of March, she appeared in public for her first major in-person gathering since her COVID-19 analysis, main her household, dozens of international royals and a whole bunch of Britain’s nice and good in a service of thanksgiving for the lifetime of her late husband at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip pose for a photo on June 1, 2020, in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle, ahead of his 99th birthday on June 10.

The dying of a monarch is adopted by a flurry of rituals, together with an handle to the nation by the brand new king and by the prime minister, adopted by long-established funeral plans carried out with navy precision.

For now, nonetheless, Britain ready to mourn.

The plans embody a funeral worthy of the religious and dutiful girl who pledged herself at age 21 in service to her nation and by no means wavered because the dwelling image of the British individuals.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles pose for a portrait in the garden of Frogmore House in Windsor, England, on March 23, 2021.

Queen Elizabeth II’s historic reign

She reigned, by no means dominated, as Britain’s head of state and constitutional figurehead for many years. She acceded to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, when her father, King George VI, died at age 56. She was simply 25.

Having celebrated her Diamond Jubilee of 60 years on the throne in 2012, she was the U.Ok.’s oldest monarch ever, and the longest-serving, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who reigned 63 years and died in 1901.

Greater than half the individuals alive in Britain right now have identified no different monarch on their throne, their cash, their financial institution notes and their stamps. A modest, even shy lady, she grew to become probably the most well-known girl on the planet, probably the most photographed and depicted human being in historical past, who met and shook fingers with an estimated four million individuals or extra throughout her reign.

Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey in London.

She inherited a sun-never-sets empire simply beginning to disintegrate, then presided over its closing collapse right into a Commonwealth of countries that appeared to her as its chief, and to which she was deeply dedicated to the top. She was Britain’s stiff higher lip through the 20th-century post-World Struggle II restoration, the final gasps of the empire, the Chilly Struggle and the conflict on terrorism.

In her colourful hats and her sturdy wise footwear, her ever-present purse on her arm, she was a relentless by means of kaleidoscope modifications because the 20th century roared into the 21st: the expansion of tv, Beatlemania, Britain’s demographic transformation to a multi-ethnic society, and the rise of a celeb tradition that ensnared almost each member of her household.

She tailored to altering instances by altering – and but not altering on the vital issues, comparable to sustaining a dignified silence – whereas embracing the web age with a palace website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and even a royal channel on YouTube

She was stoic and carried on by means of the antics and scandals of members of her household. Most lately, she needed to climate the general public downfall of her son Prince Andrew for his friendship with convicted intercourse offender Jeffrey Epstein, which later led in an embarrassing civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse. And her grandson Prince Harry’s choice to maneuver to America together with his spouse, Meghan, and depart royal life behind resulted in months of recriminations additional infected by accusations of racism (hotly denied) within the royal household.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, joined by her mother, Doria Ragland, show their new son to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019.

When it was essential, she shed her regular reserve. She presided over the heart-rending 1997 funeral of her former daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, the “individuals’s princess.” She did it – regardless of her want to guard Charles and Diana’s two sons – to save lots of the standing of the monarchy from a grief-maddened populace enraged by what appeared to be royal coldness and detachment within the wake of Diana’s dying in a automobile crash in Paris.

If the queen appeared sometimes out of step with the accelerating modifications, she redeemed herself and the monarchy by adjusting, and he or she gained new recognition and admiration in her later years. At all times deeply revered, she was beloved by the point she reached 80, helped partly by the discharge of the movie “The Queen.” Dame Helen Mirren’s transcendent efficiency as Her Majesty received her the Academy Award for greatest actress in 2007, and her tribute in her acceptance speech is as apt a eulogy as any. 

“For 50 years and extra, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of obligation – and her coiffure,” Mirren stated in her acceptance speech. “She has had her toes planted firmly on the bottom, her hat on her head and her purse on her arm. She has weathered many, many storms. And I salute her braveness and her consistency.”

What occurs to the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth’s dying?

Biographers level to the queen’s devotion to obligation as her most vital private {and professional} attribute, elevating questions on whether or not the monarchy can survive lengthy with out her. Even foes of the monarchy, often known as republicans in Britain, acknowledged they admired her. They see the monarchy as a hereditary establishment wrapped in wealth and privilege that has no place in a contemporary democratic society; they credit score her with not solely saving it however making it extra common than ever.

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“She will likely be remembered for protecting the British monarchy going by means of the 20th and into the 21st century – and for leaving it in higher form,” says Robert Lacey, the British historian and biographer who has written 4 books on the queen. “She was imbued with an amazing sense of obligation and duty. In the long term, that may be a power and her attraction.”

Elizabeth’s sense of obligation was established early in her life through the monarchy’s worst trendy disaster: the abdication of the throne by her uncle, King Edward VIII, in 1936. The abdication shocked Britain, particularly after the federal government and palace had saved the disaster out of the headlines till virtually the day it occurred. From the angle of commoners and dukes alike, the previous king was seen as shirking his obligation and turning his again on his nation.

The profound impact on 10-year-old Elizabeth, Lacey says, is that from then on obligation was her watchword. In contrast to Edward, the queen swore to by no means abandon the position she was thrust into by probability of start and thus throw the monarchy and nation into disaster.

Queen Elizabeth II’s adolescence

She was unlikely to be queen when born the primary youngster of Prince Albert (Bertie) and the previous Girl Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Duke and Duchess of York, on April 21, 1926, at her dad and mom’ townhouse in London. Her father’s eldest brother, identified within the household as David, was the Prince of Wales and inheritor to the throne after his father, and her grandfather, George V. Though single when he grew to become Edward VIII in January 1936, he was nonetheless younger sufficient to marry and have youngsters.

Elizabeth spent her early years in quiet household life, largely at household estates within the nation, the place she developed a lifelong affinity for horses and canines, particularly Welsh corgis. That bucolic life was shattered after Edward stop the throne in December 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American. 

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The abdication thrust Elizabeth’s father to the throne as George VI (he took the title to honor his father), which made Elizabeth heiress presumptive and the probably subsequent monarch. So she grew to become a queen in coaching underneath the tutelage of her father and her austere paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.

She made her first public speech at age 14 in 1940 on BBC Radio, chatting with youngsters, like her, who have been being evacuated to security from the London Blitz in World Struggle II. Two years later, she bought her first navy appointment, colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards. 

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Through the years, her official duties elevated, giving her a style of what was anticipated of her in charitable work and as figurehead of the British authorities and navy. She grew to become head of youngsters’s hospitals. She toured Scotland together with her dad and mom. She even grew to become a licensed navy driver in 1945 towards the top of the conflict.  

Though she and her youthful sister, Princess Margaret Rose, spent a lot of the conflict years within the security of Windsor Citadel, they and their dad and mom helped rally the British within the brutal effort to win the conflict towards the Nazis. When Britain succeeded, the nation was almost bankrupt but in addition deeply bonded to the royal household for his or her roles.

On her 21st birthday, throughout a go to to South Africa, then nonetheless a part of the empire, Princess Elizabeth addressed the British individuals by radio, vowing that her life, “whether or not or not it’s lengthy or brief,” can be devoted to serving the nation and the imperial household, now often known as the Commonwealth. In 1977, celebrating her Silver Jubilee of 25 years on the throne, she informed the nation that although her vow was made “in my salad days, once I was inexperienced in judgment, I don’t remorse nor retract one phrase of it.”

Household life was at instances tumultuous

In 1947, Elizabeth married her distant cousin, Philip (she was the primary British monarch to rejoice a diamond wedding ceremony anniversary), the exiled Greek prince raised largely in Britain who was an officer within the Royal Navy and with whom she had been in love since she was 13 and he was 18.

In distinction to the 1981 fairy-tale extravaganza wedding ceremony of Charles to the previous Girl Diana Spencer, Elizabeth’s wedding ceremony was easy. With the nation nonetheless recovering from the conflict, she collected ration coupons for her gown like different younger brides of the time, which additional endeared her to the general public.

Princess Elizabeth leaves Westminster Abbey with her husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, after their wedding on Nov. 20, 1947.

The marriage in Westminster Abbey helped carry a few of the gloom that fell over London after the conflict, and shortly there have been two youngsters to rejoice: Charles, the inheritor, and Princess Anne, now the Princess Royal. Her early years as a spouse and mom have been her happiest; then her father died in his sleep whereas she was on vacation in Kenya. She flew residence a queen, somber however composed.

She was topped a yr later, on June 2, 1953, by this time royally skilled for her job, prepared for the tasks, accepting of the truth that her life and her household’s life would by no means be the identical once more.

Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, at Natal National Park in South Africa on her 21st birthday, when she broadcast a message to the British Empire on April 21, 1947.

As a queen, Elizabeth has been an unqualified success. As a mom, not at all times. She suffered grief and mock as head of a contemporary, typically dysfunctional royal household trapped in public expectations of Victorian-era values.

Charles was born in 1948, adopted by Anne in 1950. Andrew and Edward got here a lot later, in 1960 and 1964.

The queen at all times wished a big household however put it off as a result of obligation got here first, biographer Lacey says. Hers was by no means a heat and fuzzy persona, he says, and her cool aloofness could have carried over into household life.

Charles informed his biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, in 1994 that the queen was an absentee mom. She was off being queen and he was left with nannies, he stated. Andrew and Edward, nonetheless, insisted they weren’t starved for motherly consideration. “They made it clear they thought their mom had been completely marvelous,” Lacey says.

Nonetheless, her youngsters have been the chief supply of misery in probably the most painful yr of her life, 1992, what she known as her “annus horribilis,” when the marriages of three of her youngsters collapsed, accompanied by reams of scandalous tabloid headlines. 

Then, on Nov. 20, 1992, the queen’s beloved Windsor Citadel burned for 15 hours; 100 rooms have been broken or destroyed. “It was symbolic of what was taking place to the home of Windsor,” Lacey says.

Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, left, joins her mother, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, father King George VI, and her sister, Princess Margaret, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on VE-Day, May 8, 1945.

Taxes paid to revive the fortress as a result of it was state property however Elizabeth opened elements of Buckingham Palace to the general public the next yr, and vacationer receipts helped offset the prices. 

Then, issues bought worse. The dying of the then-divorced Diana in a automobile crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, threatened the queen’s standing and that of the monarchy greater than any time of her reign.

Whereas the queen’s weeping topics piled flowers waist-high exterior Buckingham Palace and Diana’s residence at Kensington Palace in London, the royal household saved their grief underneath wraps as they holed up on their annual summer time vacation at Balmoral, their property in Scotland.

The queen’s instinctive must grieve privately was seen as out of sentimental step with a nation that wished an unprecedented public show of sorrow and respect. At that second, the queen’s famend sense of public sentiment eluded her. Her stiff higher lip, and the monarchy, appeared frozen in a distant time. 

On the recommendation of then-new however savvy Prime Minister Tony Blair and others, the queen was persuaded to return to London to talk to the nation in a uncommon televised handle. On the funeral the following day, when Diana’s casket handed her standing exterior the palace, she bowed her head.

With that easy gesture, the queen started turning public opinion.

Esteem for the queen grew as years handed and a lifetime of official engagements stacked one on high of one other. By the point of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, in keeping with Buckingham Palace, she had conferred greater than 404,500 awards and honors; hosted 1.5 million individuals at backyard events and one other 50,000 individuals a yr at banquets, lunches, dinners and receptions; met 11 U.S. presidents (13 as of 2021); hosted 102 state visits in London; traveled on 325 abroad visits, together with 96 state visits, to 150 international locations; despatched greater than 540,000 telegrams to {couples} within the U.Ok. and Commonwealth celebrating a diamond wedding ceremony anniversary; served as patron to greater than 620 charities or organizations; sat for 129 official portraits; and launched 23 ships. She additionally owned 30 corgis since 1944, and her horses received almost each main race in Britain. 

Regardless of her calculated royal distance from the general public – she by no means gave an interview, and individuals who met her have been inspired to not reveal what she stated, which was normally innocuous anyway – the queen had turn out to be a well-known mom determine to her household of topics.

“I believe it is as a result of we’re comfy together with her,” says Ingrid Seward, a veteran royals observer, biographer and editor of Majesty journal, because the queen’s recognition soared in her later years. “We will sympathize with all that she has gone by means of. We all know that the queen is at all times looking for us. We actually respect her.”

Throughout her later years, foes of the monarchy acknowledged they’d by no means have the ability to abolish the throne so long as the queen was alive. Public admiration for her was simply too nice, conceded Graham Smith of Republic, Britain’s loudest advocacy group for scrapping the monarchy.

That is as a result of the queen went about her job and averted controversy, Smith says. Though each prime minister beginning with Winston Churchill briefed her almost each Tuesday throughout her reign, Elizabeth stayed above politics, by no means giving a touch of her political leanings or signaling publicly which prime minister she preferred greatest.

Severe debate about eliminating the royals will come solely underneath a monarch much less astute, much less admired and extra gaffe-prone than Elizabeth on the throne, Smith says. “Her most enduring high quality was her skill to carry onto energy.”

Lacey considers {that a} becoming tribute to a girl who devoted her life to performing a job she did not select.

“In the long run,” Lacey says, “she triumphed.”

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