Some world leaders have stood at the heads of their respective nations for so long, that they are identified with their position more likely than their predecessors and even successors. This is especially true for hereditary heads of state who stay that way for life, especially if they become rather long-lived. When John Paul II died in 2005 after serving over 26 years as Pope, many Christians could not quite remember anyone else in the post. But there are other monarchs with longer reigns than that. Look no further than Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Sadly, pop-culture joke assertions of her seeming immortality proved false this past Thursday.
BBC reports that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, died September 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96 years old, just 70 years of which she lived as Monarch of the UK and Head of the Commonwealth of Nations which includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more countries formerly part of the British Empire. An initial update this past Thursday noted the Queen as being put under medical supervision in Balmoral, but that she was in comfortable condition. Only later did the news break out.
Elizabeth survived her husband and Consort, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, for a year following his death in 2021, but her last days seemed to have been short and abrupt. Only Tuesday, September 6, the Queen appointed Liz Truss, who turned out to be her final Prime Minister. While many of Elizabeth’s family managed to get to Balmoral Castle in time to bid her farewell, her grandson Prince Harry arrived minutes after her passing. Her death triggered the start of an elaborate Royal Funeral plan codenamed Operation London Bridge. At the same time, various world leaders joined the world public in paying her tribute. Even the Presidents of warring Russia and Ukraine found time to pass on their condolences.
Born in 1926, Elizabeth found herself on the path to Queenship upon the accession of her father as George VI following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII in December 1936. During World War II, the then-Princess Elizabeth was an inspirational figure. She and Philip Mountbatten, by birth a Prince of Greece and Denmark, married in 1947. They would be blessed with four children. Upon the death of King George in 1952 Elizabeth became Queen.
Following her death, Elizabeth’s firstborn son Charles, Prince of Wales, was proclaimed King of the UK as Charles III just this Saturday, September 10. His own son Prince William along with his wife Catherine, have been elevated as Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall. The title of Prince of Wales must be formally invested by Charles to his heir at a later date. The same goes for the Coronation of Charles, which must wait until after the Royal Funeral for Elizabeth II has concluded.
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