Updates: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Beacon of Stability, Dies.
The passing of the queen forces Britain to face its past. It is both incomparable and unfathomable how the death of Queen Elizabeth II, which Buckingham Palace revealed on Thursday, will affect Britain.
The end of a figure who served as a living link to the triumphs of World War II Britain, presided over its clumsy adjustment to a post-colonial, post-imperial era, and saw it through its painful divorce from the European Union is also marked by the passing of a revered monarch — the only one most Britons have ever known.
There is no other public figure in Britain who will have been grieved as intensely or whose death could prompt a larger confrontation with the identity and future of the nation.
Winston Churchill might come close. Elizabeth’s extraordinarily long life gave her a sense of permanency that made her passing, even at a ripe old age, unexpected.
Updates: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Beacon of Stability, Dies. The queen’s seven-decade reign was marked by many ups and downs, weaving together a tapestry of incidents that spans the 20th and early 21st centuries.
Britain and 15 other Commonwealth realms over which she presided are a shadow of the empire-in-decline she inherited in 1952. It’s unclear how many of those nations will still regard the British queen as their head of state.
Her family’s faults were endlessly examined, from her uncle Edward’s abdication to wed divorced American woman Wallis Simpson, which triggered the events that placed her on the throne, to the painful rift between her grandson Prince Harry and the rest of the family following his marriage to American actress Meghan Markle.
Because of the queen’s stabilizing influence, the House of Windsor has survived the upheavals. Whether it was about her troublesome sister Princess Margaret, her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, and his ill-fated marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, or her middle son, Prince Andrew, who is in legal problems, she rose above the media headlines with her dignity and sense of duty.
One well-known blunder occurred in 1997 when Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris, when the queen steadfastly refused to leave her vacation home in Scotland’s Balmoral Castle for the duration of the nation’s mourning.
Under a new monarch named Charles, the destiny of the royal dynasty is unclear. His accession to the throne is no longer in dispute thanks to his second marriage to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, which ended the uncertainty that existed throughout his personal troubles.
But Charles has long wished to simplify the family to make it less of a financial burden on the government. And the internal conflict persists as the royals adjust to Harry and Meghan’s departure and start anew in California.