What is it that is associated with the United Kingdom? It is likely that double-decker buses, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, tea at five o’clock, and, of course, the national anthem “God Save the Queen” would come to mind. One of the most recognizable symbols of the United Kingdom is unquestionably Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. After Victoria’s 63-year reign, Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne make her Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. As a response, the world was shocked and saddened by the news of her death on September 8, 2022. Some individuals decided to show their respect for the Queen by creating videos that were full of pleasant and loving memories of her, in which they discussed her impeccable manners and one-of-a-kind sense of humor. Whereas some people embraced the event as material for new jokes and memes. Some people did not understand this strong reaction and started commenting about British people having a “bizarre attachment to the queen,” likening citizens of the United Kingdom to ants who have the same strong attachment to the head of the colony.
But how familiar are you with Queen Elizabeth’s II biography? What made her such a cultural force that it catapulted her into the spotlight? And where do you see the British monarchy going from here?
The Beginning of Elizabeth’s Royal Path
As shown in historical literature and films, there have always been vicious battles and power struggles among royal dynasties for the right to wear the crown. However, this was not the case in 1936, when Elizabeth’s uncle, king Edward VIII made decision to marry Wallis Simpson, who had previously been divorced. Under these circumstances, Edward was no longer a viable candidate for the crown. As a consequence of this, in 1936, after having negotiations with prime ministers, Edward willingly surrendered his position as King of the United Kingdom to Elizabeth’s father, who was then given the title of King George VI. Since Elizabeth was the oldest child, she took on the role as the heir to the throne instantly. Elizabeth came to terms with her new responsibilities. The young princess’s governess provided an education of a sufficient standard for her. In addition to that, Elizabeth was educated in history, music, and languages.
On 20 November 1947 princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. Elizabeth’s father bestowed upon Phillip the titles of Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. Shortly after that, Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, in November of 1948. The peace and quiet of wedded life, however, did not last long. The reigning monarch, George VI, passed away in 1952. On June 2, 1953, at the age of 27, Elizabeth was crowned queen.
The Queen of England: What Did She Do?
In the historical play “Henry IV”, William Shakespeare said the following lines: “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”. While prime ministers make policy choices these days, the monarch’s main responsibility is to act as a symbol of national pride and represent the country with grace and honour. Elizabeth truly evolved into a dignified and diplomatic face for Great Britain.
For instance, in the 1950s the proportion of working women in the United Kingdom was just 26%. And Elizabeth was one of those people. Moreover, the only other female member of the royal family to have served in the military is Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth worked as a mechanic and truck driver in the army. This aspect alone is already impressive: it is clear that Elizabeth has always maintained a strong relationship with ordinary people since youth.
Elizabeth had a clear understanding of her responsibilities. Prime ministers have spoken highly of how thoroughly she examined all paper documentation. The only times the queen took a break were for the Christmas and Easter holidays, which speaks something about her commitment. She realised that stability and national unity are the monarchy’s primary goals. Each and every one of the fellow citizens, regardless of their social status or financial means, is valuable.
Elizabeth went to all the major gatherings and gained new acquaintances. Moreover, she was very conscious of being picked out in a crowd, so she opted for brightly coloured clothing. “I must be seen to be believed,” Elizabeth responded. During the London Olympics’ opening ceremony, Elizabeth made a cameo appearance in a James Bond short film. In addition, the Queen often responded to letters from people all across the globe.
Elizabeth’s political significance should not be underestimated either. After the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 2011, which put an end to the war in Northern Ireland, the Queen paid a visit to Ireland. Relationships between the two nations were officially normalised as a result of this event, which is remarkable.
When Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, Britain was known for its staunch conservatism and adherence to time-honoured principles. Elizabeth lived to see the decline and fall of the British empire, which now consists of just 14 territories located outside of the British Isles over which the United Kingdom maintains sovereignty. She was delighted by the emergence of new technology and the dramatic transformations in people’s perspectives of the world. Society grew more tolerant and democratic over the years; nonetheless, their perception of the monarchy has not altered in any major way. This is due to the Queen’s efforts. In the year 2020, around 80 percent of people were satisfied with the monarch’s actions. The legacy left by Elizabeth is undeniable.
Long Live The King?
After Elizabeth’s passing, several individuals began to wonder whether or not Charles III, who inherited the throne at the age of 73, would be able to preserve the respectable reputation of the British monarchy in the same manner that his mother did. Due to the fact that society places high expectations and enthusiasm on the next generation, some people even anticipated that Charles would abdicate his position as monarch in favour of Elizabeth’s grandchildren. For instance –, if you were to draw a parallel between the royal families of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, you would notice that it happened in the Netherlands, when Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander. Willem-Alexander took over as King of the Netherlands at the age of 46. However, this is not the case with the United Kingdom at the moment. The way that general consensus of the media sounds: Charles has already waited for too long to give up the crown in an easy manner.
Because Charles’s upbringing was being observed by people from all over the globe, many are unsure what he will do in the future. The tumultuous events surrounding Princess Diana are well known across the whole world. Moreover, it is common knowledge that Prince Charles is not as reserved as his mother, Queen Elizabeth II – he might cause more ‘political noise’. Thus, Charles will be scrutinised carefully by the society. Elizabeth was the “glue” in many situations; however, now that she has passed away, things might potentially shift.
In his very first public address, King Charles attempted to reassure the population that he is aware of the possible concerns; however, his mother, Queen Elizabeth, serves as the primary inspiration for him.
Nevertheless, for the time being, the country waits for the ceremony of coronation to take place. Although it is possible that things may be different in the future, it is too early to make any significant forecasts.