Just this morning, Britain and the world was hit with news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch. She was 96 years old when she passed away peacefully at her Scottish estate, Balmoral, with her children and grandchildren by her side.
As the longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952 after the passing of her father and has reigned for 70 years. Today, FirstClasse is looking back on the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the passing of the throne to her son, now known as King Charles III.
Queen Elizabeth II’s life as a monarch
Queen Elizabeth was born on 21st April 1926 in Mayfair London and named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. She was originally far from the throne before her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in December 1936. Due to this, Elizabeth’s father became King George VI and Elizabeth, at the age of 10, had become heir to the throne.
The Queen was affectionately known as Lilibet and rose to the throne at the age 27 after the passing of her father. At the news of her father’s passing, she was in Kenya to represent her ailing father and returned to London immediately, where she was later crowned on 2nd June 1953.
Since then, 15 Prime Ministers have served under Queen Elizabeth II’s monarch, starting with Winston Churchill up to Liz Truss, the most recently appointed Prime Minister. Liz was appointed by the Queen and is currently the third women Prime Minister of the UK, having served for a mere three days since her appointment on 6th September 2022.
Living through wars and a pandemic
Having lived 96 years, the Queen has been through the Battle of Britain, World War II, and the recent Covid-19 pandemic. During the war between Britain and Nazi Germany, Elizabeth was only 14 and spent most of that time at Windsor Castle alongside Princess Margaret, her younger sister.
During World War II, the Queen spent five months with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), which was the women’s branch of the British Army, where she learned motor mechanics and driving skills. Throughout the war, Queen Elizabeth also exchanged letters with Prince Philip, her third cousin, who at the time was serving in the Royal Navy.
Their love grew and on 20th November 1947, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip got married at Westminster Abbey. The Prince then took on the title of Duke of Edinburgh and stayed by the Queen’s side for 74 years, before he passed at age 99 in 2021.
But it wasn’t just wars that the Queen had experienced in her life. She also lived through the recent Covid-19 pandemic, where she too caught the virus in February 2022. Although the Queen had only mild cold-like symptoms, she mentioned that the virus left her feeling very tired and exhausted.
King Charles III, a new monarch
The death of Queen Elizabeth II means that the throne is immediately passed on to the heir, Prince Charles, without ceremony. The King is allowed to choose from any of his four names – Charles Philip Arthur George – and has chosen to be known as King Charles III. His wife, Camilla, will now be known as Queen Consort, the latter term often used for spouses of the monarch.
With this, Prince William will be heir to the throne, followed by Prince George of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince Louis of Cambridge. The line continues with Prince Harry, his children Archie and Lilibet-Diana, followed by Andrew – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s second son.
Formal ceremonies and coronation
According to the BBC, Charles is expected to be proclaimed King this Saturday, which will happen at St James’s Palace in London. However, the official crowning is not expected to be done anytime soon as preparations may take some time. Just as Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in February 1952, she was only crowned in June 1953.
King Charles III will also make his first declaration, a tradition done since the 18th century, where he will make an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland. He will then call: “God save the King”. And for the first time since 1952, the British National Anthem will be played as God Save The King.
Photos by The Royal Family on Instagram.