September 09, 2022

Since the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022) was announced yesterday I was surprised to find every website I checked was already updated and speaking of her in the past tense this morning.  Elizabeth had been Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms for over 70 years (6 February 1952 to 8 September 2022).  She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states during her life and served as monarch of 15 of them at the time of her death.  Her reign (70 years and 214 days) is the longest of any British monarch and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history.  Louis XIV (Louis the Great or the Sun King) was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715 (72 years and 110 days) and has the longest recorded reign of any monarch of a sovereign country in history.

When I looked online, I found when her father King George VI died in February 1952, the 25 year old Elizabeth became queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), and Head of the Commonwealth.  Elizabeth reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonization of Africa, and the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union.  The number of her realms varied over time as some territories gained independence and some realms became republics.  Her many historic visits and meetings include state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits with five Popes.  Elizabeth was visited by every US president during her reign except for Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963 to 1968).

Significant events of Elizabeth’s reign include her coronation as Queen in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively.  She married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, in November 1947 and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April 2021.  They had four children: Charles III, Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.  She faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism of her family, particularly after the breakdowns of her children’s marriages, her annus horribilis (horrible year) in 1992, and the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.  However, support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained high, as did her personal popularity.  Elizabeth died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, and was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.  “The Queen is dead, long live the King.”

𝗧𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗚𝗛𝗧𝗦: Queen Elizabeth’s last official act was carried out much like the rest of her life, with dignity and grace despite the changes that swirled around her.  On September 6, 2022, she received Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral Castle to invite the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government.  American author Louis L’Amour is credited with saying, “The only thing that never changes is that everything changes,” but he was hardly the first.  The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was a theorist who created doctrines about the constant change and flux of life and is quoted saying “change is the only constant in life” around 500 BCE.  Rather than allowing change to happen, we should strive to make it so.  Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.

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