By Sydney Joa, 12th Grade
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, passed away this past Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands. With 70 years on the throne, having celebrated her Platinum Jubilee earlier this year, she was the only British monarch most people have ever seen reign in their whole lives. Since assuming the crown in 1952, Elizabeth had governed 53 Commonwealth nations, engaged in political discussions with 15 prime ministers as well as 13 American presidents, and welcomed 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren to the world.
Concerns about the Queen’s health first started to arise with the picture of her final royal meeting two days prior to her death, wherein she appointed Liz Truss the new Prime Minister following Boris Johnson’s resignment. These concerns weren’t unwarranted as Buckingham Palace released a statement Thursday morning addressing the issue, which led many to believe that we were among the Queen’s final days. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
After her death, Operation London Bridge swung into action. The successor is to assume power the moment the monarch passes away–in this case, the Queen’s son Prince Charles, 73, immediately became King Charles III. The following day, the Accession Council, filled with lords and privy councilors, reconvenes to officially declare the monarch’s death and King Charles III’s new title, and the national anthem is updated with the words “God Save the King.” The funeral will take place on September 19th at Westminster Abbey, where leaders and presidents from all over the world will be in attendance, and the day will be marked as one of “national mourning.”
Though Charles is without a doubt prepared, there’s no set date for his coronation and it’s likely that it won’t take place right away due to the organization that the event requires. Queen Elizabeth inherited the throne in February 1952 but it wasn’t until June 1953 that she was crowned. Though Charles won’t be stepping down, in the case that anything were to happen to him, next in line for the crown is his firstborn son Prince William, now the Prince of Wales. Subsequently are William’s children in order of age: Prince George, Prince Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Next is Prince Harry, King Charles’ secondborn, and following are his children.
But who exactly is King Charles III? He’s formerly known as Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his past is filled with controversy after admitting to infidelity toward his ex-wife Princess Diana before she was killed in a car crash in 1997. He later married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, who will now be taking on the title “Queen Consort.”
Many wonder how he’ll manage not only with the public eye but also with parliament. Elizabeth rarely caused a divide in opinion, having never voiced her opinion on any political subject, which helped her maintain popular support across party lines. Meanwhile, Charles is a more outspoken figure as he has very well overtly expressed his honest opinions. Knowing that parliament is the only institution with the authority to remove him from power, he’ll have to be careful with whatever he publicly voices.
Despite the contentious legacy that Queen Elizabeth’s reign leaves behind, from sex trafficking scandals to colonial holdings, hundreds of thousands gather to mourn the figure who has served as the glue that held the United Kingdom together for so long. The country has grown so accustomed to the Queen’s constant presence that Charles’ biggest challenge onward will perhaps be continuing to serve as that unifying force that her mother once was.
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