Friday 9 September 2022

The Death of Queen Elizabeth II

It feels inappropriate to post about COVID today, although I have drafted a post, so I'll keep that for when the time is right. Instead, ahead of the first official address to the nation and commonwealth from our new King Charles III, here are a few bits of more pertinent or timely information... 

The Royal Family on Twitter announcement with text and image of the Queen smiling
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Mayfair in 21 April 1926. She was NOT born into the role of future Queen, it only occurred because King Edward VIII abdicated when she was 6, and her Dad (his younger brother) became King. (Edward abdicated because he wanted to marry a twice divorced American lady and UK Government said he couldn't - because the King is also head of the Church of England and it would upset their members).

Elizabeth was home-schooled along with her sister Margaret, but never took exams and had no formal qualifications whatsoever.
When she was a young woman Margaret was a bit of a wild card (she smoked and sunbathed with her top off).
Liz first met Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark when she was 8, and he was 13. They must have got on, because when he joined the Royal Navy at age 18, they became penpals. When he was 25, he asked permission to marry her, gave up his Princedom of Greece and Denmark, and they got hitched the following Autumn (November 1947).
Within the next 4 years they had 2 children, and upon the death of her father George on 6th February 1952, Elizabeth became Queen.

Statement from King Charles III on the death of his mother
Liz was a bit busy being Queen for a while, but then had a further 2 children (4 in all):
Charles Philip Arthur George - 73
2 children, Harry and William
2 wives, Diana (deceased) and Camilla
Eco-campaigner. He doesn't live a permaculture off-grid lifestyle, but he sells sustainably sourced products and artisan crafts at his Highgrove House Shop. Known for speaking his mind. 
Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise - 72
2 children, Zara and Peter
2 husbands, Mark (divorced) and Tim
President and Patron of Save The Children for the last 50 years, and very horsey. She competed in the Eventing at the 1976 Olympic Games, where she fell off and concussed herself, but still got back on the horse and completed. She has no memory of it. Anne has worn her hair in the same bun every day since 1973 (prove me wrong). Also previously dated Andrew Parker Bowles, the first husband of Camilla, who later married her brother Charles. 
Andrew - 62
2 children, Beatrice and Eugenie
1 ex-wife, Sarah
...and I'll bite my tongue and leave it there. 
Edward - 58
2 children, Louise and James
1 wife, Sophie
Baby of the group, he's done lots of work with TV production, acting, young people and sports charities, and actively supports the Duke Of Edinburgh Award. Displayed the receding hair gene from his early 20's onwards, and bagged a gorgeous smiley wife. 

Liz Truss UK PM statement on the death of Queen Elizabeth II

During her record-breaking 70 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II was not only Queen in the UK, she was also Head of the Commonwealth. Over those 70 years, she was reigning Queen over a total of 32 different countries at various points (the job actually requires all those holidays and world tours). Charles III is expected to be declared Head of the Commonwealth, which currently comprises 56 sovereign states, and he automatically inherits monarchy in 15 nations: The UK, 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, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
This is not the year 1066 or an episode of Game Of Thrones - those titles in 2022 are mostly just that, titles.

Over the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II posed for 5 different images on coins, and just 2 on stamps - she had a very young photo from 1952 until 1964, when it was replaced with the current image, which she obviously liked enough never to change. It isn't just stamps, notes and coins, her image, name and insignia are everywhere in the UK, from post boxes and manhole covers to medals and civil service vehicles, military uniforms and park gates. (Nothing will actually stop working, most will be naturally replaced with Charles once it wears out.)

Collage of 4 images of the Queen's head image credit Anonymous
Image credit: Anonymous UK

At age 73 Charles will be the oldest person to assume the British throne, and could actually call himself anything, but he's going with his given name - King Charles III. (That could be a tadge contentious to some Scottish historians, as they already almost had a Charles III.) He will be proclaimed King at 10am tomorrow (Saturday 10th) by the Accession Council at St James' Palace, and then he has to attend 'privy council' (a meet and greet meeting about what happens next). At 11am, after he's done all his oaths and promises, there will be a Principal Proclamation from the balcony (someone will shout that he's King). Then people will shout the same message from other balconies across the Commonwealth, and flags will be raised to full mast for 1 hour in celebration, before being lowered again. 

As of this morning:
"Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, it is His Majesty The King's wish that a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen’s Funeral. The date of the Funeral will be confirmed in due course.
Royal Mourning will be observed by Members of the Royal Family, Royal Household staff and Representatives of the Royal Household on official duties, together with troops committed to Ceremonial Duties."

(Whether anyone gets an additional day to mourn will depend on when the funeral takes place and how your employer feels. My marginally informed guess, and all of the rumblings, suggest Monday 19th, and a voluntary 'bank holiday style' day off for some.)

Time Magazine cover with image of a very elegantly dressed young Queen Elizabeth II

King Charles III will make his first (pre-recorded) address the nation at 6pm this evening. 

I'm not a Royalist. I don't care what your title is so much as whether you're a nice person. The over-riding image I'll be left with of Queen Elizabeth II will be one of a newly widowed frail elderly lady, in the midst of a pandemic, sitting alone at her husband's funeral. Because she felt it was right not to take more than the rest of us, because she had promised her life to serve her people, and she never let that slip. And because in spite of any titles, power, money and privilege, on that day, she showed very much that she was a wife, a mum, a grandma. She was just a person. They are all people. 

I wish strength to anyone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. 

Have a good weekend, and do something nice. Collective events like this can be exhausting, and at times overwhelming. A death of someone who has been an institution for 'almost all of almost all of our lives' reminds us of our own losses, and those of our loved ones. We all got to where we are today through the life experiences we've had, and yours will never be the same as anyone else's. Be respectful of others, and always be kind to yourself. 

(Obviously if they make any announcements 10 minutes after I post this, I'll just edit them in and pretend it never happened... )

Screenshot of the BBC with Sir David Attenborough statement on the death of the Queen

Liz Truss
King Charles III
Royal family website

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