Liz Truss, a two-day-old prime minister, ended the second Elizabethan era with four words.
Her assertion was shocking since only Britons in their 70s remembered hearing the word previously.
It also bookended an era when the Queen became a global icon of leadership while not being a politician. Her effect was entrenched in her presence year after year, decade after decade.
Wars, crises, tragedies, political scandals, pandemics, and recessions came and passed during her 70-year rule.
She assumed a collapsing empire’s throne. She died in Scotland, where independence fervor is increasing and her kingdom was at risk of splintering.
Elizabeth presided over a stormy era of women’s liberation, gay and lesbian rights, de-industrialization, and immigration that altered her country. The Queen was unfazed by the Cold War, Northern Ireland’s civil war, Britain’s membership and exit from the EU, and a globalizing economy. She was the last connection to national heroic mythology formed during World War II.
From black-and-white TV to technicolor and the internet decades to a period of ubiquitous mobile devices, the Queen was always present.
Churchill, de Gaulle, Kennedy, Mao Zedong, Reagan, Thatcher, Meir, Gorbachev, and John Paul II all reigned throughout the Queen’s lengthy reign.
Since Elizabeth discovered in Kenya in 1952 that her father, George VI, was dead and she was queen, almost everything has changed. Elizabeth was usually severe and prim.
Her peaceful and abrupt passing at 96 removed a stronghold of continuity and solidity just when Britain and the world felt more lost and chaotic than in decades.
King Charles III finds a nation that is split, economically on the ropes, and braced for a horrific winter due to rising energy prices and inflation caused by its battle with Russia over Ukraine. A second superpower conflict with China looms. Extreme heat in Britain during the Queen’s platinum jubilee summer predicts a developing climate calamity that could be hazardous for her island nation.
Charles, who waited most of his life to become head of state, faces an insurmountable challenge in restoring his mother’s leadership and stability. After years of waiting, Charles often seemed unfulfilled, and his ugly divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, pointed political jabs, and odd personality mean he’s not as adored as the Queen.
For nearly three-quarters of a century, Elizabeth was the monarch, gaining deference and respect even from a minority of citizens who saw divine right as a ridiculous anachronism and the Queen’s children and royal hangers-on as a regressive symbol of a modern nation. Most Britons have never seen her absent.
A sudden surge in republicanism appears unlikely, but the new King and his heir apparent, Prince William, must adapt the institution to the 21st century if it is to succeed or survive — probably in a scaled-back form.
The Queen’s death could have repercussions elsewhere.
Commonwealth states where she was head of state, like Canada and Australia, may ponder if it’s time to sever relations with the country.
Britain’s post-Brexit search for a middling world power will have to go forward without its most valued foreign asset—the world’s most renowned woman. She was a figure recognised and remembered across generations in a now-ended continuum.
A global wave of grief
The Queen’s absence will shock Britain. Her face appears on coins and stamps. 100-year-olds sent telegrams to their king. Her death demonstrated her influence, as the US Open and the Eiffel Tower observed a minute of silence in her honor.Presidents, premiers, and monarchs extended condolences ahead of a state funeral in London that will likely draw the most powerful world leaders in decades.
The outpouring reflected her longevity as a global figure. Elizabeth’s role above politics and decades of ubiquity allowed her to transcend partisan divides and engage with different generations and governments. Outside Britain, no one asked “which queen?”
She wasn’t welcomed everywhere. Her position symbolises the Empire and colonial persecution. Barbados and others deposed her last year. The Queen’s dedication to duty and the Crown’s rigid protocols and repressed emotions may have injured her family and nation.
Princess Margaret couldn’t marry Group Captain Peter Townsend because he was divorced and the Queen headed the Church of England.
The Queen’s seeming indifference to Diana’s death in 1997 misread the sentiment of her citizens, and she was forced to give a broadcast address.
The Queen’s death might spark a new examination of Britain’s convoluted constitutional arrangements and political system.
While Britain is more egalitarian than during the coronation in 1953, the royal family nevertheless supports a harsh class system. Millions of people adored Elizabeth both at home and abroad. Her high-level political skills were honed by endless foreign tours, banal small talk at home visits, and state dinner customs. She wasn’t admired only because she was renowned—she must be the most photographed lady in history—or because she lived longer.
The Queen was officially barred from party politics, yet she was a great politician.
Nicholas Dungan, CEO of CogitoPraxis, a business and leadership firm, said Elizabeth exhibited focused, professional leadership.
“You don’t need political power or hard power to be a leader. You need personal power,” Dungan remarked, citing the Queen’s self-possession, integrity, and vision. “Her gift may be the motivation she gives us for the future as much as her service,” he remarked. Elizabeth was glamorous when she represented Britain overseas. As a historical figure, she emanated experience and wisdom. Even the world’s most powerful men — US presidents — were intimidated by her.
Obama and Michelle were amazed by the Queen’s “history of devoted, honourable public service,” Obama remarked Thursday.
Former president Donald Trump was starstruck when he met the Queen in 2018.
Trump stated Thursday, “No one was as grand and lovely as her.”
Many Americans recall the Queen’s firm and prompt reaction to the September 11, 2001, attacks when the US national song was sung at Buckingham Palace and she said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
A skillful leader
Two instances at the conclusion of Elizabeth’s reign showed her political savvy. In 2011, she became the first British monarch to visit Ireland since independence, a controversial journey given her status and the sectarian strife in Northern Ireland. Her visit was effective because she repented of British colonial excesses and eased hostility between London and Dublin. A year later, the Queen shook hands with Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader who became deputy first minister after a peace agreement. Lord Louis Mountbatten, a father figure to the future King, was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979.
A decade later, she was in charge of the pandemic. She attended Prince Philip’s burial alone, masked. Her desire to share in her people’s seclusion during a time when gatherings were banned contrasted with the drinking and partying in 10 Downing Street, which contributed to Boris Johnson’s resignation. In April 2020, during the COVID-19 emergency, the Queen promised her isolated subjects regular times would return. She said, “We’ll reunite.” She had borrowed the words of wartime soldiers’ sweetheart Vera Lynn as she pushed a new generation of Britons to achieve in their brightest hour. Britain is in grief, and her global followers are adjusting to a world without the Queen. For a millennium, English kings and queens have died. Charles isn’t the only monarch with a difficult legacy. Courtiers, with timeworn tradition, sought to ease this transition and underline what supporters perceive as the monarchy’s best quality with a modest death notification on Thursday evening. A black-bordered sign said, “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral today.”
“The King and Queen Consort will return to London tomorrow.”