BALMORAL, Scotland – Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth, the nation’s figurehead and, for seven decades, a towering presence on the world stage, died aged 96, peacefully at her home in Scotland on Thursday.
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is of the greatest sadness for me and for all members of my family,” said her eldest son Charles, the new King.
“I know people will feel her loss throughout the country, the Commonwealth, and the Realms. And by people around the world,” the 73-year-old monarch said in a statement.
The Queen’s deteriorating health became evident on Thursday shortly after midday when her doctors said she was under medical supervision. This prompted her family to rush to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be by her side.
Meanwhile, thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace in central London, looking at the flag lowered to half-mast in stunned silence.
The crowd surged to the gates to read the notice attached to the black iron gates. She was the only monarch most Britons have ever known.
King Charles III and the Queen Consort Camilla have stayed on at Balmoral and will return to London on Friday. Charles will address the nation and meet Prime Minister Liz Truss. Details of the funeral are to be confirmed.
Charles automatically became monarch of the United Kingdom after the Queen’s death. He is now the head of state of 14 other realms, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
A NATION IN SHOCK
The Queen had been suffering from “episodic mobility problems” since last year, as described by Buckingham Palace. The ailment had forced her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements. Her husband died last year,
She performed her last official duty on Tuesday when she appointed the 15th prime minister of her reign, Ms. Liz truss.
“The demise of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation,” Truss said outside her 10 Downing Street office, where the flag, like those at royal palaces and government buildings across Britain, was lowered.
“Queen Elizabeth was the very spirit of Great Britain, and the spirit will endure,” said Truss. Prime minister Truss.
The news stunned people worldwide, and condolences poured in from leaders around the globe.
“Her legacy will be written large in the pages of British history and the story of our world,” said U.S. President Joe Biden.
In Paris, the mayor announced the city would turn off the Eiffel Tower lights in honor of her passing. Brazil illuminated the Christ the Redeemer statue with the colors of the Union Jack, and the government declared three days of mourning. At the United Nations headquarters, the Security Council and General Assembly stood in silence in her honor.
Even Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, extended his condolences, calling it an “irreparable loss.” Russia’s relations with Britain have plummeted over the war in Ukraine.
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s oldest and longest-serving head of state, came to the throne following her father, King George VI’s death on February 6, 1952, when she was just 25.
A QUEEN’S PLEDGE
She was crowned in June; the first televised coronation was a foretaste of a new world in which the media increasingly scrutinized the royals’ lives.
“I have sincerely pledged myself to your service, as so many of you have pledged to mine. Throughout my life, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust,” her coronation speech to her subjects.
Despite only being about 5ft 3ins tall, she commanded any room she entered.
Elizabeth became monarch when Britain still retained much of the old empire. Sir Winston Churchill was Britain’s prime minister, Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union, and the Korean War raged.
In the following decades, Queen Elizabeth witnessed massive political and social changes at home and abroad. She managed to evolve and modernize the monarchy. Elizabeth also adapted the ancient institution of monarchy to the demands of the modern era.
All the while remaining an enduring symbol of stability and continuity for Britons when the national economy was in decline.
Queen Elizabeth was the 40th monarch in the royal house of Norman King William the Conqueror. William claimed the English throne after defeating Anglo-Saxon ruler Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Her long reign meant she surpassed the more than 63 years Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, spent on the throne. It was not a landmark she ever aspired to.
She once said, “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones – my own is no exception.”
She was married to Prince Philip for 73 years until his death in April 2021. Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward are their four children.
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Critics said she came across as aloof and distant as she never gave a media interview. However, for most of her subjects, she was a commanding figure of respect and admiration.
“When people worldwide spoke of ‘the queen,’ they meant our Queen,” said former Prime Minister John Major.
Queen Elizabeth, at her death, was head of state of not only the United Kingdom but also of Australia, New Zealand, Belize, the Bahamas, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Opinion polls suggest that Charles does not enjoy the same level of support. Raising speculation that the demise of Elizabeth may see a rise in republican sentiment, particularly in the realms.
The former colonies in the Caribbean have voices calling for the removal of the monarchy. And for Britain to pay reparations for its involvement in the historical slave trade.
“With the change of role for the monarchy, this can be an opportunity to advance discussions of reparations for our region,” said Niambi Hall-Campbell, a 44-year-old academic who chairs the Bahamas National Reparations Committee.
Asked in a radio interview if the Queen’s death took Australia closer to being a republic, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was not the time to discuss it. read more
“Today is a day for one issue and one only, which is to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.”