On September 8, at 6:30 in the evening, Buckingham Palace announced the news that was inevitable. Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth had passed away at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96. She died peacefully, surrounded by her family. People around the country and the world sent their condolences to a much-loved monarch.
Queen Elizabeth was seemingly never destined to be Queen. Yet she took on that role for 70 years. She was a symbol to the country. For the majority of people in the UK, she was their only monarch. You have to be over 70 to remember a time when Britain had a King. Indeed, she came to the throne at 25 in 1952. Over her 70 years of sitting on the throne, she witnessed enormous social change; in the UK and in the world.
Moreover, in her 70 years of service to the country, she saw more Prime Ministers than any other monarch. And possibly some of the most important Prime Minister’s in our nation’s history. Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair to name but a few.
The United Kingdom will forever remember their longest-serving monarch.
The Princess becomes the Queen
When the then Princess Elizabeth left the country on a tour accompanied by her husband Philip, she had no idea that she would return as Queen Elizabeth II. After learning of her father’s death in Kenya, she returned to start a 70-year reign. She immediately defied protocols by having her coronation televised for millions around the UK.
Her coronation took place in June 1953. It was the first coronation to be broadcasted live on British TV. Already, it seemed clear that we were entering a new Elizabethan age. She was going to be a modern queen. At the time she ascended the throne, Britain was in a difficult position.
On one hand, it was still reeling from the consequences of the devastating second world war. On the other, countries of the Empire were starting to be harder to control. The new Queen could not let the Empire fall away.
A modern Queen
As with the broadcast of her ascension, her modernity continued throughout her reign. Indeed, by the time she came to the throne Britain was still very much an Empire. The Queen often toured the Empire and soon encouraged the countries to join a voluntary Commonwealth of nations rather than be part of the Empire. Throughout her whole reign and life, she was devoted to the Commonwealth even if it meant turning away from the up and coming (at the time) European Economic Community.
As she performed the traditional ceremonies, such as the opening of Parliament, she also instituted new practices. In 1970, during one of 16 visits to Australia and New Zealand, she performed her first royal walkabout. She greeted all those she could, they were everyday people, not only officials of the country.
She continued throughout her reign, allowing her and fellow royals to meet a greater amount of people. For her 80th Birthday in April 2006, she performed an informal walkabout. She was a much-loved Queen.
In 2012, she became the first head of state to open two Olympic Games in two different countries. Indeed, in 1976 she opened the Summer Olympics in Montreal. In 2012, she played herself alongside Daniel Craig (007) in a short film. How could one forget the Queen’s most iconic moment when she jumped out of a helicopter.
A mother and a grandmother
In the early days of Elizabeth’s reign, many saw the monarchy as stuffy and out of date. In order to go with her modern reign she chose to abolish the term the Monarchy and replaced it with the Royal Family. During the late 1960s, the BBC was allowed to film the Windsor family at home.
It showed that the royal family was not much more different than a normal family. It included scenes of the Duke of Edinburg barbecuing sausages on the grounds of Balmoral Castle. The family was filmed decorating the Christmas tree and conducting other ordinary activities.
The Queen was not only Queen. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother. She was married for 74 years to Prince Philip, the rock in all her years on the throne. When they got married, they had no idea that they would spend their life heading the monarchy.
Her children and grandchildren all spoke very highly of her. For the Queen’s 90th birthday, Prince William said that he ‘hope she realises how fond everyone is of her.’ She was not simply the Queen in their eyes.
A Queen who traveled
Many might not realise but the Queen achieved many firsts as British monarch when it comes to travelling. She was the first British monarch to travel to Australia and New Zealand. In total she visited the countries 16 times. In October 1972 she became the first British monarch to visit a communist country. She visited Yugoslavia accompanied by President Tito. Upon her arrival in Belgrade (now the capital of Serbia), she was greeted by thousands.
Throughout her years in power she visited, Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Iran, Ghana. She also visited the US and Canada multiple times. Queen Elizabeth opened the 23rd Canadian Parliament in 1957.
She has met with 13 of the last 14 US presidents. George Bush, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter. The Queen even went horse back riding with US President Ronald Reagan.
Still fond of the Commonwealth of nations she supported, she visited South Africa to celebrate the end of apartheid. In another first she visited China in 1986. She visited the Forbidden City, went to the Great Wall of China. Queen Elizabeth put aside her grievances for the IRA and visited the Irish Republic in May 2011.
The longest reigning monarch the country has known
It is well known that HRH Queen Elizabeth broke all sorts of records when it comes to her time in power. On September 9 2015 she became the longest reigning monarch in the history of Britain. She surpassed the reign of Queen Victoria, her great great grandmother. And in December 2007 she became the longest lived British monarch.
She was the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee and a Platinum Jubilee.
Views regarding the Royal Family vary from person to person. However, the death of such a symbol for the country shows how important she was. Whilst all Britons mourn the loss of the Queen, people around the world mourn with them. Even those of us who have emigrated to the UK see her as our Queen.
She will be a symbol for years to come.