Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain died at the age of 96. Earlier, she had been placed under medical supervision due to ill health. She spent most of her life on the British throne.
An uneasy vacation
It became known about the monarch’s deteriorating condition on the afternoon of September 8. According to Buckingham Palace, “Doctors expressed concern this morning and recommended that Her Majesty remain under medical observation.” The official communiqué stressed that the queen was at Balmoral Castle and was “comfortable there.
Balmoral is the traditional summer residence of British monarchs in Scotland. Elizabeth was expected to return from her vacation by the fall, but the vacation was extended. The new prime minister, Liz Truss, kissed the queen’s hand as she took office at Balmoral, not Buckingham Palace, as is customary.
Following news of Elizabeth II’s deteriorating health, her children, Princess Anne, Princes Andrew, Edward and Charles, his wife, Duchess Camilla, and her eldest grandson, Prince William, headed to Scotland. The youngest grandson, Harry, who lives in the United States, was coincidentally in England and also flew to Balmoral.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the castle wishing him well. At Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard was cancelled, British TV channels overhauled the broadcasting grid, and religious leaders called for prayers for Elizabeth.
On the evening of September 8, the Queen’s death was officially announced. “The Queen passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history back in 2015, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Elizabeth’s reign was not only long, but also eventful.
She ascended the throne in 1952, following the sudden death of her father, King George VI. The eldest daughter in the family, she outlived her younger sister Margaret Rose by 20 years. From her mother she inherited her name, from her father the state that was struggling to emerge from the post-war crisis.
Whereas George VI came to the throne by chance – due to the scandalous abdication of his elder brother – Elizabeth was a canon. Moreover, as her courtiers recalled, the queen had been preparing herself for government as a princess. Before her eyes, the British Empire was disintegrating into the Commonwealth of Nations. Elizabeth was keenly interested in how the new union would be structured, and then personally toured all its countries, some of which she visited many times. In total, she has made more than three hundred foreign visits, including those where the British Queen is officially considered head of state (there are 14).
She often received visits from Eastern Europe, although she was not sympathetic to the socialist camp. Under the principle that the monarch reigns but does not rule, the queen could not determine foreign policy. When she ascended the throne, Winston Churchill was in charge. By the way, it was Elizabeth who honored him with the title “sir.
Both the British parties – Labour and the Conservatives – have repeatedly created difficulties in the country. The former were never able to cope with the economic consequences of the collapse of the empire. The Tories, with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, were marked by a tougher confrontation with the socialist countries. In domestic politics, Thatcherism struggled to take root: wage cuts for workers resulted in mass protests.
The queen, meant to be a symbol of national unity, as her father had been in the Second World War, proved to be more of a divisive factor against this backdrop. Anti-monarchist sentiments grew stronger. The silver jubilee of her rule in 1977 was greeted by the world with a song by the punk band Sex Pistols proclaiming the British regime fascist.
However, there were still plenty of those who sympathized with the monarchy. People remembered that during World War II she drove a military truck, which had already earned her respect, while on the throne she did a lot of charity work. But she had no leverage over Thatcher because of the British political system.
A Sad Platinum Jubilee
During the Cold War, the advisability of preserving the British monarchy, which was costing taxpayers money, was widely discussed at home and abroad.
In the 1990s, however, the media paid more attention to the personal twists and turns of the Windsors. The divorce of Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles and Princess Diana dealt a strong blow to the image of the royal family – it did not tie in at all with traditional values.
And the scandal was not the last. A few years ago, Charles’s youngest son Harry decided to actually leave the royal family, refusing to perform the accompanying duties. He did so largely under the influence of his wife Meghan Markle. Fans of the former American actress speculated that this was due to an unhealthy courtly atmosphere. Markle herself did not hide it.
Then the queen’s son Andrew was accused of having sexual relations with a minor. Buckingham Palace traditionally refrained from comment for a long time. But earlier this year, Andrew was stripped of all his privileges as a member of the royal family.
Having contracted a coronavirus in February, Elizabeth barely appeared in public. Nor did she miss part of the massive Platinum Jubilee (70th anniversary on the throne) celebrations in June.
As expected, it was decided to proclaim Prince Charles – not the most popular in the country (the reason for this is the long divorce from the popular favorite Diana). Conspiracy analysts assumed that his eldest son, Prince William, would have been more appropriate on the throne. But the 70-year reign of Elizabeth has accustomed the British to stability in such matters. In any case, the new monarch will have to remain in Elizabeth’s shadow for a long time, whose departure has been called a “tectonic shift” by royal biographer Catherine Pepinster.