Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, dies aged 96

The Guardian – By Caroline Davies – Thu 8 Sep 2022

Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 96. She was not only the richest woman in the world; She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

Buckingham Palace says monarch has died at Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle.

Prince Charles, 73, heir to the throne since the age of three, is now king, and the Duchess of Cornwall is now Queen Consort.

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

The royal family’s official website carried the message: “Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022” along with the official statement issued by Buckingham Palace.

Flags on landmark buildings in Britain were being lowered to half mast as a period of official mourning was announced.

As Queen of the UK and 14 other realms, and head of the 54-nation Commonwealth, Elizabeth II was easily the world’s most recognisable head of state during an extraordinarily long reign.

Coming to the throne at the age of 25, she successfully steered the monarchy through decades of turbulent change, with her personal popularity providing ballast during the institution’s more difficult times.

At her side for most of it, the Duke of Edinburgh remained her “strength and stay” during a marriage that withstood many strains imposed by her unique position.

Despite a family life lived under the often challenging glare of publicity, Elizabeth II remained a calm and steadfast figure, weathering the divorces of three of her children, and the crisis precipitated by the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

There were undoubted low points, but the mass outpourings of affection on her silver, golden and diamond jubilees testified to the special place she held for millions. When there was criticism of the institution, it rarely translated into a personal attack on her.

Fifteen prime ministers served her, attesting to her deep knowledge, experience of world affairs and mastery of political neutrality. They stretched back to Sir Winston Churchill, who was still prime minister when she assumed the throne, with resolve and far earlier than she had expected, on the premature death of her father, George VI, in 1952.

That resolve continued to sustain her. In her silver jubilee message in 1977, she said: “When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people, and asked for God’s help to make that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.”

Often portrayed as old-fashioned, during her reign many steps were taken to keep the monarchy up to date with rapid societal change. Out went debutante “coming out” presentations, in came garden parties, receptions, luncheons, almost weekly “away days” to provincial towns and regular walkabouts, allowing personal access on a vaster scale than ever before.

Out, too, went tax-free status on her private income, and that of the Prince of Wales, though she fought hard until she was convinced public opinion was firmly set against her. The laws on succession were changed, with the abolition of primogeniture, allowing first-born daughters to accede over sons, and those in the line of succession being allowed to marry a Catholic, although not to be one.

The world witnessed her transformation from shy princess to young Queen, attracting the same global fascination as Diana, Princess of Wales would 30 years later. Even in middle and later years, she retained photogenic regal glamour.

But she seemed most content in a thick jacket and headscarf, walking her corgis or tramping Balmoral’s highland moors. “You can go for miles and never see anybody; you can walk or ride, it has endless possibilities,” she once said.

As many nations today mourn a queen, one family is mourning a mother of four, a grandmother of eight, and a great-grandmother of 12.

Read entire article & see pictures here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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