Queen Elizabeth II, Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the other 14 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, died on September 8 at the age of 96 years. Prince Charles is to become King of the U.K. as he’s the first in the line of succession to the throne.
Heir presumptive to the British throne
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the future queen of the U.K., was born on April 21, 1926, into the family of Prince Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York.
She wasn’t heir at birth because her uncle, King Edward VIII, ruled the country. Furthermore, if he didn’t have children, boys could be born to Albert, the future King George VI, which would have displaced both Elizabeth and her sister in the line of succession.
Nevertheless, in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated and Elizabeth’s father succeeded as King George VI, making her heir presumptive.
Second World War: address to children and Prince Philip
Elizabeth was 13 when the Second World War started. She and her sister Margaret were evacuated to Windsor Castle, while King George VI and his wife spent the night in Buckingham Palace and came back to their children only at night.
Although there was a plan to evacuate the princesses and their mother to Canada, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth at the time, refused to go, explaining:
"The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave."
Princess Elizabeth staged pantomimes at Windsor with children of the Royal Household staff, and in 1940, aged 14, she gave a radio address to children evacuated from the war.
At the age of 13, the future queen met Philip Mountbatten, the future Prince Philip, and despite the future controversies around his Nazi relatives, she stayed with him for the rest of his life.
A lieutenant, the queen
At age 19, Elizabeth enlisted in the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. There, she learned to drive and was given an honorary rank, becoming Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor (service number 230873).
After the war, aged 21, Elizabeth made her first visit abroad, to South Africa, accompanying her father, and made a radio broadcast addressing the Commonwealth and the British Empire, promising to serve the people of the empire till the end of her life.
In the same year, in November 1947, Elizabeth married Philip. In 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles and in 1950 to Princess Anne.
In 1952, after her father died of lung cancer, Elizabeth became Queen of the United Kingdom, aged only 25. She was in Kenya at the time, where she was partially performing the duties of George VI.
The coronation of Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, was the first to be televised.
In 1960, the queen gave birth to Prince Andrew, and in 1964, to Prince Edward.
Elizabeth II traveled a lot
Elizabeth II was one of the most popular persons in the U.K., enjoying the support of about 80% of her subjects. Her popularity had been shaken for a while only by the death of Princess Diana, but later she regained public support.
Queen Elizabeth II was the longest ruler among the British monarchs: as of September 8, 2022, her rule had lasted for 70 years and 214 days.
Elizabeth II also traveled more than any other British king or queen, being the first U.K. monarch to visit Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, as well as independent Ireland. Elizabeth II visited most of the European countries and many non-European ones, including India and Pakistan.
The collapse of the British Empire and secretive influence
It was under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II that the British Empire finally dissolved. The Commonwealth of Nations was then formalized, and the queen served as a communicator between the former metropole and the colonies of the empire.
At the same time, despite having a large diplomatic influence, as a constitutional monarch, Elizabeth II wasn’t supposed to express her political sympathies or antipathies in public, and she observed the rule by acting non-publicly.
At the same time, the queen formally possessed legislative, executive, and judicial power, but she had to follow the advice of the Cabinet and the Privy Council. At the same time, Margaret Thatcher commented on the queen’s weekly meetings with prime ministers as follows:
"Anyone who imagines that these meetings are confined to social niceties is quite wrong."
Thatcher also wrote that the queen was "the kind of woman who could vote Social Democratic".
Support for Ukraine in its war against Russia
Although formally Elizabeth ІІ couldn’t make political statements in support of Ukraine after Russia’s full-scale invasion, she had showed it repeatedly this year.
For example, when she met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March, there was a vase with blue and yellow flowers on the table near Elizabeth ІІ, and a few days before, the queen had made a large donation to aid Ukraine.
Furthermore, on May 10, in the Queen’s address to the parliament delivered by Prince Charles, Elizabeth ІІ mentioned Ukraine and promised to continue supporting its people.
On May 17, the queen wore a yellow overcoat and a yellow hat with blue flowers, and on May 26, she appeared in public wearing a Hutsul vest, an embroidered shirt, and a pink hat resembling the one the Kalush frontman Oleh Psiuk wore on Eurovision.