Queen Elizabeth II

Last Updated on 14th September 2022 by Mike@bitaboutbritain

Queen Elizabeth II death notice

In the early evening on Thursday, 8 September 2022, the following announcement appeared on the official Royal website.  It was also posted on the railings at Buckingham Palace, where the flag had already been lowered.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

News channels, alerted by earlier reports that the Queen had been placed under medical supervision and that senior royals were gathering at Balmoral, went into overdrive.  Most people in Britain and the Commonwealth, and many around the world, will be deeply saddened by the news.  Some, of course, will be untouched; it is not relevant to them, for whatever reason.  Thoughtful republicans will be respectful of the person and the loss.  A minor few, bitter and full of hate, express views that would disgust anyone with a shred of humanity.  Personally, as well as feeling sorrow at her passing and sympathy for her family, I feel curiously empty, odd.  The late Queen, Britain’s longest serving monarch, came to the throne in 1952, aged just 25.  She has been part of my entire life, a constant among all the ripples and occasional shockwaves that have run through our country.  Though not a close member of the family, it is as though we all knew and could rely upon her.  Tomorrow feels strange, uncertain.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

It is hard to convey what a profound moment this is in Britain’s history.  Apart from a brief period in the 17th century, there have been monarchs on the thrones of England and Scotland since the 9th century.  Most of these would be considered absolute monarchs.  Since 1688, Britain has been building a constitutional monarchy, in which the Sovereign, whilst Head of State, has no party political role and legislative power rests with an elected parliament.  The late Queen was the epitome of a constitutional monarch; she reigned, but did not rule.

Our new King, Charles III, has a tough act to follow.  Not only that, but the United Kingdom has a shiny, brand-new, Prime Minister too, Liz Truss.  The new King and Prime Minister will need to learn together – though I suspect that Charles has had rather more training for the role. 

Elizabeth II worked with 14 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill when she came to the throne in 1952, to Boris Johnson. All surviving prime ministers – John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson – have remarked on the late Queen’s wisdom, which of course was partly based on 70 years in the same job.  On her 21st birthday in 1947, before she came to the throne, she made a pledge:

“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

She certainly delivered on that.  Everything you hear about her tells of her tremendous work ethic, but even the most dedicated worker does not keep going until they are 96.  Queen Elizabeth II was working right up to 6 September, at least, when she accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson and invited Liz Truss to form a government as her 15th prime minister.  In the photos, she looked tiny, and a little frail, but beaming.

As well as being hereditary Head of State of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth was Head of State of 14 other Commonwealth Nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. You would expect to see tributes from those governments, I hope, but the accolades have flooded in from friends, allies and not so sures from all over the world.  Flags have been lowered and news of her passing has been on countless front pages. This was a woman held in huge respect, and affection, way beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth.  You have to remember that she has not only met many current heads of government, but their predecessors too.  What inside knowledge she must have had.  She met 13 of the last 14 Presidents of the USA, from Truman onward (Lyndon B Johnson was the one that missed out).  US President Biden and former presidents Carter, Clinton, George W Bush, Obama and Trump, all sent their condolences.  Even Russian President Vladimir Putin did – though am I being uncharitable in thinking that, exceptionally, these may not have been entirely heartfelt?

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II has been the focus of our national identity for a very long time.  She was, I think, a unifier – and that is a very great thing.  Some have likened her to the nation’s grandmother.  The world of 70 years ago, black and white and grimy, seems almost like an alien planet to us now.  She was young and lovely.  Somehow, she always appeared to embrace both tradition and progress.  In 1952, Britain was still emerging from a war that crippled us.  There was a housing crisis, rationing, the NHS was in its infancy, it was still a very class-ridden society and Britain had started the necessary process of dismantling its Empire.  The Queen was at the centre of a period of unprecedented change – not just the end of Empire, but the Cold War, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, swinging sixties, the Pill, decline of industry, strikes, market deregulation, invasion of the Falkands, the privatisation of utilities, collapse of the Soviet Union, devolved governments in the UK, the microchip, world-wide web, the Corona virus pandemic, the growing recognition of climate change – right up to seeing war in Europe again (which, like the rest of us, she must have thought unthinkable), when Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Others have written far more eloquently and knowledgably about Queen Elizabeth II than I ever could.  But I wanted something on A Bit About Britain that paid respect to this remarkable woman and to mark the start of a new era – the new Carolingian (or Carolean). Thank you, Ma’am, for everything.  Rest in peace and God bless you.

God Save the King.

Click or tap here for a bit about Britain’s monarchs since 1603 to the present.

83 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth II

  1. marmeladegypsy

    Thank you for this, Mike. I thought the world of her. Not my queen by nationality but my queen in the heart and soul. She managed dignity, grace, a grandmotherly elegance when on duty and a “just one of the folks” presence when she was driving her Land Rover or putting on her headscarf and riding. I’ve been working on a post to go up sometime before Monday and noted how many people could do what she did for 70 years — meet and greet thousands you’d never meet again, day after day, mastering small talk and yet making the recipient feel like a million bucks? I couldn’t. Deal with those you really don’t much like (I’m sure a few of her PMs fell into that category) with politeness. I don’t think she was perfect (who is?) and probably made more than a few mistakes but she was there. She was constant. She was my queen and I’ll miss her.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      That is an astonishing tribute, Jeanie – beautiful and heartfelt. I’ve been blown away by the tributes about our late Queen from all over the world. It is humbling, comforting, eye-opening and appreciated so much. I look forward to reading your piece. x

  2. junedesilva

    Beautifully written, as always, Mike. The Queen has been on the throne throughout my life, a constant presence. Whatever one’s thoughts on the monarchy, the Queen was an amazing woman, a hardworking and constant presence. I have always been fascinated by the love the French had for her and their interest in the Royal Family. When I taught English conversation lessons, in France, my students were always delighted if they had the opportunity to talk about our Royal family. Their knowledge of this institution was probably greater than mine! I used to tease them by suggesting that they loved our Royals because they guillotined their Kings and Queens! I thought the tribute by Macron was superb.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Thank you, June. I love your tease – it raised a smile. I agree – Macron’s tribute was lovely. It is a measure of the lady that tributes have been so widespread and generous. I have read very touching accounts of toasts to her in restaurants in France, flags being lowered, and more.

  3. robertawrites235681907

    HI Mike, although I grew up in South Africa, my heritage is English so I have always know who the queen is. I watched the royal weddings of Diana, Fergie, and Kate and footage of the two jubilees. The queen has always been there and I can understand why the British feel her loss so much.

  4. mekslibrarian

    It wasn‘t exactly a shock, but sad nonetheless. As O.K. put it, you certainly can‘t blame the midwife anymore.
    The Queen was well loved and respected in my country, too, and not only by the many relatives she and her husband have here.
    She truly believed in what she did, and did it with dignity – always.

  5. Ellen

    As Providence will have it, hubby and I will be in Great Britain during the mourning period and for the funeral and thankfully not in London with the rest of the world. Lovely tribute. We loved the Queen!

  6. Graeme

    Much of what you expound here is very true Mike. However I feel obliged to comment on two points. The class system which you allude to being firmly established in the 50’s and by implication changing has simply, in my humble opinion, divided into a growing gap between society’s haves and have nots. Queen Elizabeth 2nd perpetuated the same system by her very existence.
    Secondly, there have been far too many wars in Europe during her reign. Even the war you mention, arguably began in 2014.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Thanks, Graeme. The debate about haves and have nots is, in my view, a different one from the class system, which has been very much diluted since 1945. Obviously, some want to keep it alive, but they are a diminishing minority, thankfully. The monarchy has evolved and continues to; if you want a head of state, it needs to be treated with a degree of deference; I suspect the debate is more about the nature of the office! I stand corrected on the war issue – the west was asleep in 2014, too. Nevertheless, the invasion of 2022 felt different, more akin to the kind of aggression many of us thought unlikely in Europe now.

  7. Evelyn C. Miller

    I am an 82-year-old American who is also very much an Anglophile (I mean that as a compliment.) I have traveled over many parts of England on several trips I was fortunate enough to take to your beloved homeland and have loved each village and city I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. I mourn with you and your fellow countrymen and women, boys and girls…and certainly with the Queen’s family since Queen Elizabeth died so suddenly (though not completely unexpectedly.) I have so admired the Queen and her family from afar since I was a young girl and heard about her becoming Queen so soon after her marriage. My prayers are with your country and your King as he begins a new chapter in his life. Your article was, as always, very well-done and of great interest. Thank you.

  8. artandarchitecturemainly

    Although Queen Elizabeth was head of state for only 14 nations other than Britain, there are nearly 60 nations in the British Commonwealth. Will there be a different response in these two groups of nations?

  9. Marcella Guzman

    Thank you for this your post. Beautifully thought out, beautifully stated, lovely.

    With deepest condolences,
    Ms Guzman

  10. Lisa G.

    I’m glad you did this piece, Mike. And I offer my deep condolences to all members of the Commonwealth who read this blog. She was an admirable woman.

  11. John

    This is such a beautiful tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Mike, thank you. I have never been to the United Kingdom but always feel like there is a part of me that is connected. God bless the United Kingdom. ❤️

      1. John

        Believe me, Mike, I want to very much but don’t know where to start! So much to see. I follow you and one other person there. Where to begin?

  12. denisegmcgee

    Hi Mike,

    This is exactly the kind of piece I was hoping to see from you — such a nice tribute. I’m American, and I think the Queen was wonderful. It made me proud today when Hal and I went to our local YMCA to walk, and I saw that they, as well as the nearby fire station were flying their flags at half-mast. I’m sure our town hall is, too; I just haven’t been by there today. It’s so moving to see how the world has responded with an outpouring of respect, affection, and sadness at her passing. I like what Emanuel Macron had to say — “She was Great Britain’s Queen, but to us she was The Queen.” Sorry, I’m sure the quote is not exact, but I think that’s how many people in many countries saw her — the Queen. She’s the only queen ever on the throne during my lifetime, and my Dad watched her coronation on television here in the states when he was 11 years old. Her legacy of service to so many people is a fine example indeed. I wish we had someone like that here.

    I enjoyed your post, Mike, and my thoughts will be with England in the days to come.

    Best wishes,

    Denise

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      That’s lovely, Denise – thank you so much. I have been bowled over by the reaction all round the world, not simply in Britain and the Commonwealth. It is wonderful that our friends and allies – and even others – had so much respect for her. Even with everything else going on, her passing and the aftermath and next steps, are the main news items over here.

  13. thehungrytravellers.blog

    In this era where we have become devoid not just of true statesmen but also of politicians of integrity and true commitment to cause, one cannot help but worry when we lose our greatest source of stability and dignity. We hope that those qualities have been sufficiently instilled into our new King.

  14. Maxine Ferguson

    Thank you Mike for taking the time to write that caring piece. Sharing that empty feeling and heavy heart at the moment.
    But one day soon we will remember her with
    smiles as I’m sure she would wish. A splendid human being. Our dear Queen.

  15. Andy

    I echo the sentiments of others that you did another great scribbling job – well done Mike. well captured. One strange snippet – my father, also passed of a number of years now – told us his memories as a young drummer boy marching with his side drum in the funeral procession of King George V. From the date – 1936 – that must have been when he was at the famous Foundling Hospital.

  16. Helen Devries

    I’m glad you wrote this…..describing the changes we have seen during her reign which also changed the way in which the royal family engaged with the people of Britain.

  17. hilarymb

    Hi Mike – you’ve expressed our loss perfectly and how our Queen has influenced us, calmed us … and most certainly have someone who we could look up to and totally respect. She was an extraordinary human being … so caring – now gone, yet many memories. Thank you – cheers Hilary

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