After reigning for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on 8 September at Balmoral at the age of 96. The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change during her reign, with Britain becoming an island from a global empire.
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War, and the UK’s entry into – and withdrawal from – the European Union. Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Ms. Truss, born 101 years later in 1975. Throughout her reign, the Queen held weekly audiences with her prime minister. After the Queen’s death, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall.
The Queen was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, in Mayfair, London, on 21 April 1926. Few could have foreseen that she would become monarch, but in December 1936, her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated from the throne to marry the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI and, at age 10, Lilibet, as she was known in the family, became heir to the throne. Within three years, Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, spent much of wartime at Windsor Castle after their parents rejected suggestions that they be evacuated to Canada.
Through the war, she exchanged letters with her third cousin, Philip, Prince of Greece, who was serving in the Royal Navy. Their romance blossomed and the couple married at Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947, with the prince taking the title of Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen later described the prince as “my strength and stay” through 74 years of marriage before his death in 2021.
To mark the Diamond Anniversary of their Wedding on 20 November 2007, the Queen and Prince Philip re-visited Broadlands where 60 years ago, in November 1947, they spent their wedding night. The Duke of Edinburgh was at the Queen’s side for more than six decades of reign, becoming the longest-serving consort in British history in 2009. Their first son, Charles, was born in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964. Between them, they gave their parents eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya in 1952, representing the ailing King, when Philip broke the news that her father had died. She immediately returned to London as the new Queen. Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, aged 27, in front of a then-record TV audience estimated at more than 20 million people.
Following a 70-year reign, we're looking back at the classical music that featured during the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II on the 2nd of June 1953. pic.twitter.com/BGMPCRZzqb
— Scala Radio (@ScalaRadio) September 17, 2022
World mourns death of Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II reformed the monarchy by engaging with the public through walkabouts, royal visits, and attendance at public events. Her commitment to the Commonwealth was a constant – she visited every Commonwealth country at least once.
Foreign leaders have paid tribute to the Queen, with US President Joe Biden recalling how she stood in solidarity with the US in their “darkest days” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, she was a “kind-hearted Queen” and “friend of France.”
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, President Dr. Arif Alvi, and others also expressed sorrow over the death of Queen Elizabeth and offered condolences to the Royal Family and the people and government of the United Kingdom. Pakistan, along with Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, UAE, and India, also observed a day of mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Note: A slightly different version of this article appears in the 2022 September Magazine.