News News and Events The Queen's Life

Updates: World Mourns Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Bastion of Stability

Written by admin

Watch live coverage and reactions to the death of Queen Elizabeth II at age 96. Buckingham Palace announced the death of the Queen after members of the royal family traveled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be by her side.

Buckingham Palace said the queen, who was 96, died peacefully at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands. Her son became Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III.

People gathering outside Buckingham Palace on Thursday after the news of the queen’s death was announced.Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II, whose seven-decade reign made her the only sovereign that most Britons had ever known, died on Thursday at her summer estate in Scotland, thrusting a bereaved country into a momentous transition at a time of political and economic upheaval.

The queen’s death at Balmoral Castle, announced by Buckingham Palace at 6:30 p.m., elevated her eldest son and heir, Charles, to the throne. He is Britain’s first king since 1952, taking the name King Charles III.

At 96, visibly frail, and having survived multiple health scares, the queen had been in the twilight of her reign for some years. But news of her death still landed with a thunderclap across the British realm, where the queen was a revered figure and an anchor of stability.

In itself, the queen’s death is a watershed moment. But it also comes at a time of acute uncertainty in Britain. A new prime minister, Liz Truss, has been in office for only three days, following months of political turmoil in the British government. The country faces its gravest economic threats in a generation, besieged by inflation, soaring energy bills and the specter of a prolonged recession.

Queen Elizabeth II: A Life in Photos
Elizabeth took her first steps in a world we recognize only from sepia photographs, and became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Here are a selection of images from her life.
Sept. 8, 2022

The death of Elizabeth sets in motion a royal transition more complicated than any change in prime ministers. It will be meticulously choreographed in its rituals, but what kind of monarchy it will produce is a mystery. At 73, Charles is the oldest person to become monarch in British history — a familiar figure, to be sure — but one who has made clear he wants to transform the nature of the royal family.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the palace said in a stark, two-line statement affixed to the front gate of Buckingham Palace. “The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and return to London tomorrow,” it said, referring to Charles and his wife, Camilla.

Image

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The announcement came after an anguished vigil of several hours, following a lunchtime statement by the palace that the queen had been placed under medical supervision. Family members rushed to her side at Balmoral Castle, suggesting this was no ordinary medical crisis but that the end was near.

News of the queen’s decline began circulating as Parliament was debating an emergency aid package to protect Britons from huge increases in gas and electricity bills. After a senior minister whispered in her ear, Ms. Truss rose to leave the chamber. Hours later, clad in black, she emerged from Downing Street to pay tribute.

“Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built,” Ms. Truss said. “She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure.” Ms. Truss concluded by swearing fealty to the new monarch, disclosing for the first time that he would be known as King Charles, rather than by another name, as is a monarch’s prerogative.

“God save the king,” Ms. Truss declared.

Image

Credit…Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press

The new king said in a statement, “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms and Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

Tributes also poured in from around the world. President Biden and his wife, Jill, said in a statement that the queen was “the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection.” Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, said she had embodied the “continuity and unity” of the British nation for over 70 years.

As dusk fell on London, large crowds began to gather in front of Buckingham Palace, echoing the mass demonstrations of grief after the news that Princess Diana had been killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997.

Others lingered on street corners, staring at news updates on their phones. In South London, Tiana Krahn alluded to Britain’s mounting problems, saying the queen’s death came at the “worst possible moment in history.”

“We are going to see some crazy falling apart,” she added. “There was something solid about that, about knowing that she was in charge.”

Many of those who crowded pubs on Thursday evening described being at a loss as to how they should feel. “I don’t think people around the world realized just how brilliant she was,” said one customer, Jeff Nightingill. “It’s like losing your grandmother. My wife will be in tears when I get home tonight.”

Image

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The queen’s death had none of the awful suddenness of Diana’s. The stark language in the palace’s statement on Thursday was highly unusual and left little doubt of the gravity of the situation.

By midafternoon, the queen’s children and several of her grandchildren had converged on Balmoral, a sprawling 19th-century castle in the Scottish Highlands where the queen and her family have long spent their summers.

Charles and Camilla had been staying in a royal residence not far from Balmoral, and he was reportedly paying regular visits to his mother. Her daughter, Princess Anne, was also in Scotland already.

A Royal Air Force jet carried several other members of the royal family to the nearby city of Aberdeen, where they boarded a motorcade to Balmoral. That included her two other sons, Andrew and Edward, and Prince William, the eldest son of Charles, who is now the heir to the throne.

Mourning Queen Elizabeth II, in Photos
The death of the queen marks the loss of a revered monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known.
Sept. 8, 2022

Prince Harry, who with his American-born wife, Meghan, had a bitter rupture with the royal family, made his way to Scotland on his own, arriving well after the queen’s death was announced. The couple saw the queen at Windsor Castle recently to introduce her to her newest great-granddaughter, Lilibet, who bears the childhood nickname that Elizabeth’s parents gave her.

The cause of the queen’s death was not known; the palace has said in the past that she has problems with mobility. She recovered from a bout with Covid-19 in February, which she later said had left her exhausted.

With no further updates after the midday statement that her doctors were “concerned,” there was a mounting sense of portent as the day unfolded. The BBC suspended its regular programming to carry continuous news coverage, its cameras trained on the iron gates of Balmoral, which swung open periodically as vehicles arrived or left. Heavy rain showers added to the gloom.

The vigil came after a week that offered a powerful reminder of the queen’s role in Britain’s constitutional monarchy. On Tuesday, she met Ms. Truss and her outgoing predecessor, Boris Johnson, both of the Conservative Party. In a photograph, a smiling, if fragile-looking, queen greeted Ms. Truss before a roaring fireplace, a walking stick in her left hand.

 

Credit…Pool photo by Jane Barlow

Mr. Johnson, who spoke to the queen on an almost weekly basis for his three years in office, issued an emotional statement upon her death.

“As is so natural with human beings, it is only when we face the reality of our loss that we truly understand what has gone,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is only really now that we grasp how much she meant for us, how much she did for us, how much she loved us.”

By tradition, the monarch invites a new prime minister to form a government after the outgoing one submits his or her resignation. This time, the ceremony, known as kissing hands, was moved from Buckingham Palace to Balmoral on the advice of her doctors to spare the queen the need to travel to London.

Beyond such formal rituals, the queen was a symbol of continuity and constancy over eight decades. She served as a living link to the glories of World War II Britain, presided over its fitful adjustment to a post-colonial, post-imperial era, and saw it through its bitter divorce from the European Union.

There is no analogous British figure who will be mourned as deeply — Winston Churchill might come closest — or whose death will provoke a greater reckoning with the identity and future of the country. Her extraordinary longevity lent her a sense of permanence that makes her death, even at an advanced age, somehow shocking.

 

Credit…Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Her steadfastness also helped the House of Windsor weather its own upheavals. Dignified and dutiful, she managed to rise above the tabloid headlines, whether about her troubled sister, Princess Margaret; Charles and his failed marriage to Diana; her second son, Andrew, who settled a sex abuse case linked to his ties with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein; or the soap opera of Harry and Meghan.

One well-documented misstep came after Diana’s death, when the queen declined for days to leave Balmoral to join in the nation’s grieving. She finally expressed her sorrow in a televised address, speaking, she said, as a “grandmother.”

The queen’s declining health had been a recurring cause of concern for the past few years, forcing her to cancel many public appearances, even much-loved events like her annual commemoration of Britain’s wartime dead.

She had largely retreated to Windsor Castle, her country residence outside London, though this year she kept to her summer habit of decamping for Balmoral, where she enjoyed walking on the estate’s craggy hills and sylvan dales.

During the Platinum Jubilee in June, marking her 70 years on the throne, a smiling monarch appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a parade and a Royal Air Force flyover in her honor. But she skipped most of the rest of the celebrations, including a gala concert held in Queen Victoria Square, in front of the palace. She stopped traveling outside Britain several years ago.

As the queen receded from public view, Charles took on many of her public duties, including the state opening of Parliament and the conferring of knighthoods.

 

Credit…Pool photo by Ben Stansall

In April 2021, the queen lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, who died a few weeks before his 100th birthday. At Philip’s memorial service, she sat, masked and alone, in a choir stall at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, a poignant symbol of the pandemic’s social distancing restrictions.

Even near the end, in her declining state, the queen was a constant, revered figure in the public life of her country. During the depths of the pandemic, she addressed a socially isolated nation, assuring Britons, in the words of Vera Lynn’s beloved World War II-era song, that “We will meet again.”

For Elizabeth, Philip was ‘the only man I could ever love.’

Queen Elizabeth II, already Britain’s longest-serving monarch, passed another milestone in 2017 when she and Prince Philip became the longest-married couple of the country’s royal family.

Where and when they first met remains unclear. He was invited to dine on the royal yacht when Elizabeth was 13 or 14. He was also invited to stay at Windsor Castle around that time while on leave from the navy, and there were reports that he visited the royal family at Balmoral, its country estate in Scotland.

After that weekend, Elizabeth told her father, King George VI, that the naval officer was “the only man I could ever love.” Her father at first cautioned her to be patient.

Whisked off on a royal tour to South Africa, Elizabeth was said to have written to Philip three times a week. By the time she returned to England, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark had renounced his foreign titles and become Lt. Philip Mountbatten, a British subject.

The engagement was announced on July 10, 1947. That year, on the eve of the wedding, Lieutenant Mountbatten was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, and was given the title His Royal Highness.

The crown princess, 21, married the prince, who was 26, on Nov. 20, 1947, in a ceremony complete with horse-drawn coaches and crowds lining the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

The birth of their first child, Prince Charles, on Nov. 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace, was followed by Princess Anne’s, in 1950; Prince Andrew’s, in 1960, after Elizabeth had become queen; and Prince Edward’s, in 1964.

After the marriage, Prince Philip took command of the frigate Magpie in Malta. But King George VI had lung cancer, and when his condition worsened, it was announced that Philip would take no more naval appointments. In 1952, the young couple were in Kenya, their first stop on an overseas tour, when word arrived on Feb. 6 that the king was dead. Philip broke the news to his wife.

The same year, the new queen ordained that Philip should be “first gentleman in the land,” giving him “a place of pre-eminence and precedence next to Her Majesty.”

By royal warrant, the queen gave Philip the title Prince of the United Kingdom, bringing her husband’s name into the royal line. Yet Philip occupied a peculiar place on the world stage as the husband of a queen whose powers were largely ceremonial. He was essentially a second-fiddle figurehead, accompanying her on royal visits and sometimes standing in for her.

The crowd outside Buckingham Palace has continued to grow through the evening. The gates of the palace, which was the queen’s primary residence, remained closed, but people congregated around it and on the Queen Victoria Memorial directly adjacent to the 

At a British grocery in New York, shoppers pause to remember the queen.

Irene Donnolly, a shopkeeper at a small British grocery store in Manhattan, stood behind a display case of steak and kidney pies and sausage rolls with the phone pressed to her ear and a grave look on her face. She cleared her throat and delivered the news to her co-workers.

“She’s passed away,” Ms. Donnolly said. “It’s official. They’ve just announced it.”

Like the other workers, Ms. Donnolly had spent the morning monitoring the news about Queen Elizabeth. Within moments of the announcement of her death, the cooks huddled in the tiny kitchen of the shop, Myers of Keswick, and turned the radio to a recording of “God Save the Queen.” Then Ms. Donnolly and her co-worker, Elena Saldana, climbed onto a chair to pull a framed portrait of the queen off the wall and placed it carefully in the shop window, surrounded by Union Jack bunting.

“I feel a bit shocked — I didn’t think it would happen that fast,” said Ms. Donnolly, who has worked at Myers, which is in the West Village, since she moved to New York from Ireland two decades ago. “It’s the end of an era. I can’t even speak.”

For 37 years, Myers of Keswick has supplied British New Yorkers and admirers of the United Kingdom with food items like Cornish pasties, British cleaning supplies, and all manner of candies and snacks.

On Thursday, Myers and other British businesses in the West Village also became a busy gathering place for admirers of the queen — and for journalists who wanted to interview them.

Credit…Evelyn Freja for The New York Times

A nearby restaurant, Tea and Sympathy, was surrounded by camera crews at one point during the afternoon, with diners outnumbered by loitering reporters. “This not a normal day at the office,” scoffed a waitress, who declined to tell any in the media her name.

All morning, Ms. Donnolly said, Myers had been getting calls from people eager to buy up any Queen Elizabeth memorabilia they had in stock, like the tea towels folded neatly near the cash register, or the plates and cups on a high shelf in the back.

Others came to buy small tokens of Britishness — a can of soda, a bag of chips — on a day when they wanted to feel connected to each other and to the historical moment.

“Today just seemed like the time to step in here,” said Shauna Niequist, 46, an essayist who lives in Chelsea.

She stopped into Myers on a whim while on her way to pick up her children from the first day of school. She had studied in Britain and Ireland as an undergraduate, and her time overseas as a young woman affected her greatly, she said. The queen’s death had left her feeling shaken.

She hoped buying snacks for her children might help her set the stage for a conversation with them about the import of the day.

“My kids are 10 and 15 years old, and they probably don’t know anything about her, but to me this is a major loss,” said Ms. Niequiest, a packet of gingernuts cookies and a bag of winegum candies in her hands. “I’m a big food person, and I thought connecting memories and stories to food and flavors might help.”

At Ye Olde King’s Head, a hub for British expats steps from the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., televisions were tuned to the BBC and a shrine featuring a portrait of the queen and red roses had been set up outside. Lisa Powers, the manager, was bracing for a sad, busy day. “We try and do what we can to bring people together for these big events,” she said.

Shortly after the queen’s death, a succinct official statement was posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace. It noted that she “died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.”

About the author

admin

Leave a Comment