Long Live the King

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Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away Thursday, in what has been described as a watershed moment for many Britons, who have viewed her as a symbol of stability and continuity during her seven-decade reign, the New York Times reported.

Buckingham Palace announced the monarch died at the age of 96 at the Balmoral Castel in Scotland, where she had been residing in her last days as a result of her poor health.

Days before her death, she formally appointed former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as the country’s new prime minister, following the resignation of her predecessor, Boris Johnson. In a break with tradition, the official appointment took place in Balmoral, instead of Buckingham Palace, as her health prevented her from traveling.

Elizabeth II was 25 years old when she ascended the throne in 1952 and presided over a declining British Empire that saw its former colonies become independent during the 20th century, as well as the United Kingdom splitting from the European Union.

She is fondly remembered by many British as a symbol of permanence and perseverance, amid royal scandals, contraction of the empire and constant changes around the world, according to the Washington Post.

British leaders offered their condolences to the queen, with Johnson calling it the “country’s saddest day.” His successor, Truss, described the queen as a “personal inspiration to me and to many Britons.”

“Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed,” she added.

For ordinary Brits, her death was quite a shock and somber moment.

“She’s a bit of England that will never be replaced,” Mike Rowe, who heard about the queen’s death at a pub, told the New York Times.

Tributes also poured from other world leaders, including current and former US presidents. President Joe Biden mourned her loss and regarded the monarch as “a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons,” CNBC noted.

Queen Elizabeth II will be succeeded by her son Prince Charles, who will now be officially known as King Charles III.

Observers remarked that the queen’s death could provoke a reckoning with the identity and future of Britain. Others questioned whether members of the Commonwealth of Nations will continue to recognize the British monarch as their head of state.

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