With great sadness, Buckingham Palace today announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history and arguably one of the most influential women throughout time.
At age 96, having lived through the second great war, 15 prime ministerial appointments, 14 US presidential visits, and most recently a global pandemic, the Queen of England, for the past seventy years has been a much-loved figure and role model across the globe.
“For many of us British expats here on campus, the news of her majesty’s passing this afternoon feels like the loss of a dear friend and the end of an era”.Eleanor Boom, BYU linguistics major, West Yorkshire, England
Queen Elizabeth, known as Lilibet by her nearest and dearest was born on April 21, 1926, London, England to parents Prince Albert, Duke of York and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. At the mere age of six, Elizabeth told her riding instructor that she wanted to become a “country lady with lots of horses and dogs”, and that she did, being the owner of over thirty corgis in her lifetime. Queen Elizabeth was an avid equestrian who later went on to allow her own daughter, Princess Anne, to compete in the 1971 Montreal Olympics three-day-equestrian event on the Queen’s horse, Goodwill.
Shortly after Queen Elizabeth’s tenth birthday in December 1936 Lizzie’s uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne leaving her father, George VI, the new King of England and she the heir presumptive.
Fast forward to 1948, after her betrothal to her distant cousin Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy formerly Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Princess Elizabeth gave birth to their first child and now King, Charles (Philip Arthur George). A short four years later in 1952, the health of the Queen’s father, King George VI, entered a serious decline – him terminally ill with lung cancer, brought about by a lifetime of smoking.
While princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were en route to Sagna, Kenya, news reached them of the king’s death, leaving Elizabeth, 25, a young mother of two, the next Queen of England and head of the Royal Family. With Britain still enduring post- war austerity at the time, Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey marked the dawn of a new Elizabethan age characterized by stoicism, service, and unity.
“Today is a sad day for many nations as we mourn together the death of such a marvelous woman who reigned with grace and kindness, and who promoted unity. We, women, couldn’t have asked for a better role model.”Eleanor Boom, BYU linguistics major, West Yorkshire, England
On September 9th 2015 Queen Elizabeth became the longest reigning monarch in British history, surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. The Queen, known for her humble nature, in typical Lizzie style refused to make any fuss about reaching this milestone saying the title was “not one to which I have ever aspired”.
Although there have been times of uncertainty throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth continued to sit at the driving seat of modern history all while prioritizing service to her people and a dedication to the crown. On the evening of her coronation, she affirmed, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether long or short, will be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
Even after 73 years of marriage to her love, Prince Philip, the birth of 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, Queen Elizabeth’s focus on global unity remained unmatched. Before and during her monarchy, she visited 131 countries and was the first monarch to ever visit the Republic of Ireland in efforts to mend burned bridges.
Becoming the Queen of England also came with the added responsibility of being the Leader of the Church of England, a task Lizzie carried out with faith and hope in perilous times. Every Christmas and Easter, she gave the British Public uplifting spiritual messages to keep calm and carry on with a steady faith in God. Standing in solidarity with the US after 9/11, she poignantly reminded the public that ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’
In a changing world, Queen Elizabeth was a constant source of comfort for Britons, including many who have never known life without her. She will be dearly missed. Long may her legacy of love, unity, and faith live on.
God bless the Queen.