Queen Elizabeth II

(Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor)

1926 - 2022

Queen Elizabeth II
Creative Commons cc-by-2.0

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Head of the British Commonwealth. Born in London, Her Majesty the Queen had a close relationship with Scotland, her mother (Queen Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore) and sister (Princess Margaret) all with strong connections to Glamis Castle in Angus. She was raised by a Scottish governess, the much-loved but later notorious Crawfie. With an official residence at Palace of Holyroodhouse and a summer home at Balmoral Castle, the Queen enjoyed her time in Scotland, where she typically lived between July and September each year.

Growing up not expecting to be monarch, everything changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated and her father reluctantly took the throne as King George VI. His early death in 1952 brought her to the throne, with her coronation the following year at Westminster Abbey. At the same abbey in 1947, Elizabeth had married HRH Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who became the Duke of Edinburgh. This union gave rise to four children; namely King Charles III, Princess Anne (the Princess Royal), Prince Andrew (Duke of York and Earl of Inverness) and Prince Edward (Earl of Wessex and Earl of Forfar).

Also in 1953, she received the Scottish Crown in a ceremony in St. Giles Kirk in Edinburgh, a scene depicted by the Orcadian artist Stanley Cursiter (1887 - 1976), who was the Queen's Painter in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated a successful Silver Jubilee in 1977. However the marriage difficulties of her children brought her upset in the later 20th C. and the death of her sister and mother within weeks of each other in 2002 saddened her deeply. In the same year she celebrated her Golden Jubilee. In 2007, she became the oldest British monarch ever. In 2015, she became the oldest currently-reigning monarch in the world and the longest-reigning British monarch. In 2017, she continued to break longevity records, becoming the first British monarch to celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee (65 years) of a reign and also her 70th wedding anniversary. She lost her husband Prince Philip in 2021 and the following year she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service. She was one of the world's most travelled leaders, having visited 117 countries and journeyed over one million miles (1.6 million km).

While Elizabeth II was widely regarded as providing stability for the nation during periods of change, her role has had to adapt over the years. She inherited a substantial empire and had seen most of these countries gain independence and become part of a Commonwealth, which she headed. At the start of her reign the Royal family were widely loved, but this has changed such that a sizeable proportion of the British population became respectful of her as an individual but dispassionate about her position. Criticism led to her volunteering to pay income tax for the first time in 1993 and her popularity suffered as a result of her response to the death of her daughter-in-law Princess Diana in 1997, when she chose to protect her grandchildren rather than share in the country's emotional outburst.

Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle. Her body was brought by road to the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and she then lay-in-state at St. Giles Kirk before being flown from Edinburgh Airport to London for a state funeral in Westminster Abbey. She was interred next to her husband and parents in the King George VI Memorial Chapel within St. George's Chapel in Windsor. She is remembered as an inspiring world leader, who modernised the role of the British royal family, yet became a symbol of continuity, service, dignity, discretion, humility, and a subtle but successful international diplomat.

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