The Life and Legacy of the Queen

Written by: Alexis 

Edited by: Erich

Visual by: Gladys

On September 8, 2022, the world was shocked by the tragic news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. Buckingham Palace announced news of her death following the release of an earlier statement detailing medical concern for her health. At 96 years old, she holds the record as the longest reigning British monarch, holding the throne for 70 years. In the 7 decades of her reign, she met generations of world leaders, traveled around the globe, ushered in a new post-colonial era in Britain, and ultimately became one of the most renowned monarchs in history. 

Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth II was third in line to the throne after her uncle, Edward VIII, and her father, George VI. However, with the abdication of her uncle, in order to marry, divorcee Wallis Simpson, Queen Elizabeth’s life was fundamentally altered. Immediately after, Queen Elizabeth’s father was proclaimed king, making her the direct line to the throne, and at the age of 25, she was crowned queen in the wake of her father’s death. 

During her time as queen, Queen Elizabeth had a number of  achievements, which included hosting a number of monumental speeches, traveling around the world, and  forming stronger alliances with other nations.

When World War II came, she and her sister Margaret were evacuated to Windsor Castle due to the bombing in Buckingham Palace. King George VI and the Queen remained in the palace in solidarity. According to Grunge, at just 13 years old, “she felt a keen sense of duty” and wished to enlist in the military once she came of age. The Royal family couldn’t allow their heir to be put in danger but Elizabeth kept pushing and pushing to convince them. She was finally granted permission to join the Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service (ATS) when she turned 18. While her role wasn’t in combat, her actions demonstrated willingness to serve her country and her dedication to the British citizens.  

She has had several firsts as queen, including being the first British monarch to visit the Chinese mainland in 1986. During the trip, she explored renowned monuments, such as the terracotta warriors in Xi’an and the Great Wall of China. She also visited the Republic of Ireland in 2011. This marked the first presence of a British monarch there in  a century. She addressed the United States Congress in 1991. Being the first queen to do so, an act that allowed the development of a special connection between the UK and US. While the two nations do indeed share a lot of history,her speech furthered their unity and cooperation. These visits allowed her to immerse herself in many different cultures while  creating stronger political bonds with state leaders.

Though Queen Elizabeth has had many remarkable moments, she has also had a number of controversies. The most prominent one pertains to her relationship with the late Princess Diana, Charles’ former spouse. Tabloid criticisms of the royal family rose following the death of Princess Diana. Queen Elizabeth initially refused to fly the flag at half-mast, failing to provide an official address over Diana’s death. 

Another controversy that sparked debate in the Royal family was the “Megxit.” In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that they would be stepping back from their royal duties and moving to the US. A Buckingham Palace source revealed that the Queen felt “genuinely very conflicted” regarding the exit of her grandson Harry and his wife, Meghan. An interview was conducted with Harry and Meghan, who spoke of their decision to retire from their royal duties. They made allegations concerning the racism that occured in the palace, yet Buckingham Palace responds that these issues would be addressed privately.

Finally, in the expected procedure after a British monarch dies, the next in line to the throne immediately takes their place. After the queen’s death, her son, King Charles III acceded to the throne along with his wife Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom. The titles King Charles previously held  have been transferred to his eldest son, William. He and his wife Kate are now regarded as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The Queen will remain a widely respected and admired figure for the entire world. With little to no monarchies left in this world, her greatest legacy will be bringing a modernized monarchy system into the 21st century.

References 

“The Life and Legacy of Britain’s Longest-Serving Monarch.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/queen-elizabeth-life-legacy-uk-monarch-rcna17047

Pruitt, Sarah. “15 Key Moments in the Reign of Elizabeth II.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Nov. 2020, https://www.history.com/news/queen-elizabeth-ii-key-moments

Somers, Jeff. “Queen Elizabeth II’s Most Notable Accomplishments.” Grunge.com, Grunge, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.grunge.com/680882/queen-elizabeth-iis-most-notable-accomplishments/