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Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth IIQueen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on 08 September 2022 at her Balmoral residence in Scotland, capping 70 years on the throne and becoming as a result Britain's longest-serving monarch to date.

Elizabeth was born at 17 Bruton St on 21 April 1926 and christened on 29 May 1926 at Buckingham Palace. The Queen's real birthday is 21 April but was officially celebrated in June. Official celebrations to mark Sovereigns' birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday had not been in the summer. King Edward VII, for example, was born on 9 November, but his official birthday was marked throughout his reign in May or June when there was a greater likelihood of good weather for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.

Princess Elizabeth was educated at home with Princess Margaret, her younger sister. When her father succeeded to the throne in 1936 after the abdication of King Edward VIII, she became heir presumptive. She started to study constitutional history and law as preparation for her future role. Princess Elizabeth also studied art and music, learned to ride, and became a strong swimmer.

In 1940, at the height of the Blitz, the young Princesses were moved for their safety to Windsor Castle, where they spent most of the war years. In 1947, Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Mountbatten, now His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. They had four children. Prince Charles, now The Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the throne, was born in 1948, and his sister, Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal, two years later.

In February 1952, while visiting Kenya, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father's death and her own accession to the throne. The young Princess flew back to Britain as Queen. She was greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other officials at the airport.

Succeeding her father, George VI, on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth II, at the meeting of the Accession Council on February 8, 1952, declared: "I shall always work as my father did ... to uphold constitutional government and to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples," and "I pray that God will help me to discharge worthily this heavy task." Most will concede that she has lived up to her earlier declaration. Not only had she faithfully carried out her constitutional duties, but she made the monarchy an accepted and popular institution. The high level of interest in the royal family and in royal events is an indicator of the special place that the Queen and her family held in modern life.

The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. In the 1960s, Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Andrew (1960) and Prince Edward (1964). They were the first children to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria.

In 1979, Elizabeth suffered a great personal loss when Lord Mountbatten, her husband's uncle, died in a terrorist bombing. Mountbatten and several members of his family were aboard his boat on August 29, off the west coast of Ireland, when the vessel exploded. He and three others, including one of his grandsons, were killed. The IRA (Irish Republican Army), which opposed British rule in Northern Ireland, took responsibility for the attack.

The rocky marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana made headlines for years before the couple announced plans to divorce in 1992. Prince Andrew's union with Sarah Ferguson ended up in the tabloids as well, with photos of Sarah and another man engaged in romantic activity splashed across the front papers. And the queen's own husband has inspired numerous public relations headaches with his off-the-cuff, edgy comments and rumors of possible infidelities.

In 1977, Britain and the Commonwealth celebrated the Queen’s 25 years on the Throne – her Silver Jubilee. These were followed by celebrations marking her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee (60 years) in 2012. In September 2015, The Queen overtook Queen Victoria and become Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

In her traditional Christmas message to the nation, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reflected on her bittersweet memories of 2002. It was a year filled with festivities marking her half-century on the throne. But it was also a year which saw the death of the queen's mother, The Queen Mother, and her younger sister, Princess Margaret.

High-spirited and unconventional, Princess Margaret did it her way. And it was her individuality that was remembered most by the British. In many ways, she was the Princess Diana of her generation. In the '50s and '60s, she loved going out on the town, rubbing shoulders with the showbiz set. But heavy smoking and drinking would take their toll in her later years. In the mid-80s Princess Margaret had part of a lung removed following a cancer scare, and a series of strokes over the years all but took her out of the public spotlight.

The Queen carried out all of her duties against the backdrop of a full personal life which saw her raise four children and welcome grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren to the Royal Family. The Duke of Edinburgh was – in her own words – her ‘strength and stay’ during her reign, whilst other members of the Royal Family offered vital support through their work in the UK and overseas.

Elizabeth II ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe. Her extraordinary reign saw her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits. Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, she was an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.

Her Majesty continued to carry out a full programme of engagements, from visits to charities and schools, to hosting visiting Heads of State, to leading the nation in Remembrance and celebratory events - all supported by other members of the Royal Family.

The Queen saw public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work. The Queen has links - as Royal Patron or President - with over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations. These varied from well-established international charities to smaller bodies working in a specialist area or on a local basis only.

Her patronages and charities covered a wide range of issues, from opportunities for young people, to the preservation of wildlife and the environment. Having Her Majesty as Royal patron or president provided vital publicity for the work of these organisations, and allowed their enormous achievements and contributions to society to be recognised.

As Sovereign The Queen had important and distinct constitutional relationships with the Established Churches of England and Scotland, dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As Head of the Nation and Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty also recognised and celebrated other faiths in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth.

The Sovereign holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England'. These titles date back to the reign of King Henry VIII, who was initially granted the title 'Defender of the Faith' in 1521 by Pope Leo X. When Henry VIII renounced the spiritual authority of the Papacy in 1534 he was proclaimed 'supreme head on earth' of the Church of England. This was repealed by Queen Mary I but reinstated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who was proclaimed 'Supreme Governor' of the Church of England.

The Queen's relationship with the Church of England was symbolised at the Coronation in 1953 when Her Majesty was anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and took an oath to "maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England".

The Queen was, of course, associated with the Corgi. The breed was introduced to the Royal Family by her father, King George VI, in 1933 when he bought a Corgi called Dookie from a local kennels. The animal proved popular with his daughters and was described as ‘unquestionably the character of the Princesses’ delightful canine family’ and ‘a born sentimentalist’. A second Corgi was acquired called Jane who had puppies, two of which, Crackers and Carol, were kept. For her eighteenth birthday, The Queen was given a Corgi named Susan from whom numerous successive dogs were bred. Some Corgis were mated with dachsunds (most notably Pipkin, who belonged to Princess Margaret) to create ‘Dorgis’. The Queen’s corgis traveled with her to the various residences, with Her Majesty looking after them herself as much as possible given her busy schedule.

Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, died 09 April 2021 at Windsor Castle near London. He was 99 years old. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16 after spending a month in hospital, where he underwent a heart procedure. Prince Philip, a great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, was born into the Greek royal family. He married Queen Elizabeth in 1947 before her accession to the throne. The couple had four children, including Prince Charles. Prince Philip participated in many official duties with the Queen and supported her for more than 70 years. His frank remarks sometimes caused controversy, in contrast to the Queen, who is famous for her prudence. In a speech she gave to mark the 50th anniversary of their marriage, Queen Elizabeth said of her husband, "He has been my strength, and I and his whole family owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know." The Duke of Edinburgh retired from all official duties in 2017. He rarely made public appearances after that time.

In her dispatch for the New York Times about the riches-to-rags-to-riches arc of Philip’s life, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown avoided any reference to the prince’s documented, unflattering history of nastiness, intolerance and racism and wrote a love story about a poor refugee and a shy, besotted princess. “It was a love match from the start,” Brown wrote of the courtship between the “rootless” prince and the English princess. Alas, by her own account, the “love match” may not have endured, since, cliché alert, the “devastatingly handsome” prince often strayed. “Though his eye was rumored to rove, his devotion to the queen cannot be questioned,” she wrote.

Absent from the Netflix drama “The Crown” was Philip’s unapologetic fondness for demeaning one-liners about women and people of color. Prince Philip’s disagreeable habit of making “reactionary” gaffes were widely excused as the unfortunate musings of an “irascible” curmudgeon who, according to Tina Brown, was simply “impatient with fools”. During a visit to China in 1986, the “irascible” prince shared the following definitely not racist advice with a British student: “If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.” In 1994, the jolly elderly prince made this definitely not slanderous remark to his Cayman Island hosts: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” While on a royal tour to Papua New Guinea in 1998, the cheeky, but definitely not racist prince, asked one lucky Brit : “You managed not to get eaten then?” As if to prove that his penchant for ugly stereotypes extended to his loyal subjects in Scotland, the prince posed this definitely not racist question to a local driving instructor: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, noted that Prince Philip’s racism was actually quite priceless because it came so naturally to him. He was not faking it. He was not trying to offend anyone. He was offensive. This was who he was – and the long panoply of his racist, sexist, elitist, misogynistic, class-privileged and unhinged prejudices was a mobile museum of European bigotry on display. The Duke of Edinburgh had done the world an extraordinary service by being who he was, by staging generous servings of his bigoted disposition. His xenophobic bigotry was pure, his sense of class entitlement undiluted, unencumbered, uncensored, liberated from any inkling of bourgeois inhibitions. The kind of bigotry that Prince Philip exuded and staged was considered rude and vulgar, old-fashioned and outmoded. The Prince was the repository of all the colonial past and all the class privileges of the present.

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Page last modified: 10-09-2022 05:16:21 ZULU