Queen Elizabeth II, Passes on at 96 as King Charles III Takes British Throne.

Queen Elizabeth II, Passes on at 96 as King Charles III Takes British Throne.

British longest reigning monarch ever, Queen Elizabeth II, passed on Thursday at age 96, after a successful reign for 70 years and fourteen days. The Queen’s death ends the longest reign in British history. She was also the world’s oldest Head of State. She will be succeeded by her eldest child Prince Charles who has

British longest reigning monarch ever, Queen Elizabeth II, passed on Thursday at age 96, after a successful reign for 70 years and fourteen days. The Queen’s death ends the longest reign in British history. She was also the world’s oldest Head of State.

She will be succeeded by her eldest child Prince Charles who has already chosen the title of King Charles III. He is the oldest royal to ascend the British throne.

In a statement, the new King of the United Kingdom said: “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother.

“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.

“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.”

The Queen’s Reign in History
Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne for longer than any other monarch in British history. In seven decades, Britain lived through the Cold War and 9/11, while countries in the Commonwealth fought for their independence.

In her family, the Queen saw three of her children get divorced, the death of Princess Diana, and one of her grandsons sensationally accusing the Royal Family of racism.

1952 – February 6, was when ‘everything changed’. She ascended the throne of her forbears after the passage of his father, King George VI . It was a time the British society was largely patriarchal. She was 25 years old. By the time the Queen reached her Silver Jubilee in 1977, she had spent more years as sovereign than her father had.

The Queen famously described 1992 – when she marked 40 years on the throne – as her “annus horribilis”. Three of her four children’s marriages collapsed and a fire at Windsor Castle caused more than £36m in damage.

There was a building sense of crisis, which was exacerbated by these royal divorces. You got the sense the monarchy was having major problems. In March, Prince Andrew separated from Sarah Ferguson, who was later photographed frolicking with her billionaire lover around a pool in the south of France.

That same month Princess Anne divorced her husband of almost two decades Captain Mark Phillips. In December, it was announced Charles and Diana were getting a divorce. Republican sentiment ran high, with widespread dissatisfaction about the public financing of the Royal Family.

In a bid to mitigate some of the ill-feeling, the Queen started paying income tax the following year – and there was a reduction in the civil list. The Queen by and large stayed above the fray, but her children and their spouses did not.

In an unusually personal speech in November, she said: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.” She said.

Continuing she noted that criticism is “good” for institutions like the Royal Family but suggested that the scrutiny that year could have been done with a “touch of gentleness, good humour and understanding”.

1997 – Diana’s death

Up until Princess Diana’s death on 31 August, 1997 had been a “fairly routine year” for the royals. Charles and Diana had divorced the previous July. When news of Diana’s death broke from Paris, the Queen was at Balmoral with Diana’s sons Harry and William.

They remained in Scotland for five days until the day before the funeral on 6 September. The princes later praised their grandmother for taking the “difficult” decision to let them grieve in private.

The delay in coming back to London, and the refusal, at first, to fly royal flags at half mast, however, angered Diana’s fans.

The Queen did not think Diana should have a state funeral because she had left the Royal Family. But she was eventually persuaded by the then-prime minister Tony Blair, who captured the national mood when he called Diana’s the “people’s princess”.

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee
Although the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year was supposed to be one of celebration, it couldn’t have got off to a worse start, as she suffered two bereavements in quick succession, with her sister Margaret dying on 9 February 2002 at the age of 70 and her mother on 30 March at 101.

The Queen Mother never remarried following the death of her husband in 1952, so remained extremely close with both her daughters. All three women were brought closer together by the early death of King George VI.

Just 72 hours after Princess Margaret’s funeral, the Queen embarked on her Jubilee Commonwealth tour with a visit to Jamaica. She made her way around the world, with a subsequent trip to a new territory in Canada where she famously began an ice hockey match.

The Jubilee tour was due to start the previous year but was postponed due to the 9/11 terror attacks.

The Harry and Meghan Challenge

Harry and Meghan posed their own challenge for the Queen. They had discussed with the Queen on their desire to step back from royal duties. They arrived back in the UK in January and were seen smiling at their first public engagement of the year at Canada House in London.

Although Meghan had hinted at the challenges of becoming one of the ‘Firm’, their announcement on 8 January that they planned to “step back as senior royals” was completely unexpected – and posed a real dilemma for the Queen.

The Queen eventually issued a personal statement in response to the couple’s departure, saying: “While all are saddened by their decision, the duke and duchess remain much loved members of the family.”

Their departure proved a damaging perception for the Royal Family on the world stage. The Queen worked so hard for so many years to steady the ship – she had a very acute awareness of how important public opinion was – there was a destabilising of that in 2020.”

Throughout her seven decades as Queen, Elizabeth recorded a Christmas message every single year except for one – 1969. Each time she would reflect on the events of the past year and praised the resilient spirit of the British people through times of war, violence, and hardship.

She made just five special, unscheduled broadcasts throughout her reign, which included one after the death of Princess Diana and another during the coronavirus lockdown.

On 9 September 2015, the Queen surpassed her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria as the longest-serving monarch in British history. At that point she had served as Queen for 23,226 days – more than 63 years – beating Victoria’s record. She acknowledged the moment as she opened a railway in the Scottish Borders.

The 96-year-old Queen was unable to attend most of the events planned for her Platinum Jubilee due to mobility problems. However, she did appear to acknowledge crowds from the Buckingham Palace balcony, where she appeared alongside another potential monarch – Prince George.

Her last public appearance was on Tuesday when she received Ms Liz Truss as the newly appointed Prime Minister of Britain. On that occasion, she really looked frail.

For her platinum celebration, it was Prince Charles and Prince William spoke on her behalf, thanking the hundreds of thousands of people who took part and spectated, but she did release a statement to express her gratitude.
“When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there isn’t a guidebook to follow. It really is a first.

“But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.

“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all. I have been inspired by your kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.”

That indeed is the end of an era.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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