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Queen Elizabeth II: The Life and times of the longest-reigning British monarch

Queen Elizabeth IIQueen Elizabeth II, who has ruled the UK for the last 70 years, died on Thursday at Balmoral at the age of 96.

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

Crowds gathered at Buckingham Palace in London awaiting information on the Queen’s condition started wailing when they learned of her passing. At 18:30 BST, the Union flag above the palace was lowered to half-staff.

Earlier in the day, palace officials had issued a statement saying that Queen Elizabeth was under medical observation at Balmoral because her doctors were concerned about her health. These worries increased, and her family later gathered at her Scottish estate.

Her eldest son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will now take the throne as the new King and ruler of 14 Commonwealth states and lead the nation in mourning the Queen’s death.

Following the Queen’s placement under medical supervision, all her children had made their way to Balmoral, close to Aberdeen, including her grandsons, Princes William and Harry.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Reign

The reign of Queen Elizabeth II as head of state was long, covering the post-World War II period, the change from an empire to a Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War, and the UK’s membership in and out of the European Union.

 

Fifteen prime ministers served during her reign. The current prime minister, Liz Truss, was picked by the Queen earlier this week. Throughout her rule, she met with her prime minister every week.

Queen Elizabeth Succeeds her father

On April 21, 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Mayfair, London. Only a few people anticipated she would become monarch. In December 1936, her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated from the throne to marry the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson, and Elizabeth’s father became, King George VI. The Queen, Lilibet, as she was known, therefore became heir to the throne at the age of 10. 

During Britain and Nazi Germany war, Elizabeth’s parents rejected recommendations that Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret move to Canada. They, therefore, spent most of the wartime at Windsor Castle.

When Elizabeth was 18, she trained as a driver and basic mechanic with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She also started communicating via letters with her third cousin Philip, Prince of Greece, who was enlisting in the Royal Navy during the conflict. 

Their relationship developed, and they later wedded at Westminster on November 20, 1947. Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Philip the prince, assumed the title of Duke of Edinburgh, and she would later  fondly refer to him as “my strength and stay.” 

Princess Elizabeth represented the ailing King in Kenya in 1952 when Philip informed her that her father had passed away. She immediately returned to London as the new monarch.

Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, at 27. 

 

Queen Elizabeth’s family

The couple had their first son, Charles, in 1948. Princess Anne was later born in 1950, then Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964. Their parents received eight grandkids and twelve great-grandchildren from all four of them.

In 2009, the Duke of Edinburgh broke the record for the longest-serving consort in British history by being by the Queen’s side for more than six decades of her reign.

 

The Monarchy and its place in society today

The Queen’s reign would soon see a massive shift as the British Empire collapsed abroad, undermining societal norms at home.

Elizabeth changed the monarchy by interacting with the people through walkabouts, royal visits, and attendance at public events. She showed her unrelenting commitment to the organization by traveling to every Commonwealth country at least once.

But the Queen has also had to deal with personal and national issues. Three of her children’s marriages failed soon after, and a fire destroyed Windsor Castle.

In 1997 Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car accident in Paris in 1997.  The Queen came under fire for not publicly commenting about it.

The monarchy’s usefulness in contemporary society has since been called into doubt.

 

 

 

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