News

Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022

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Photograph taken by Julian Calder for the Governor-General of New Zealand.

Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96. She passed away peacefully on September 8 at her summer retreat, Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Her son, Charles, immediately became the King of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms*, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He is known as King Charles III (King Charles the Third). His wife, Camilla, is now known as his Queen Consort.

Thousands of people gathered at Buckingham Palace in London, England, the Queen’s main place of residence (where she lived) to mourn together and leave flowers and notes of condolence.

The Queen is known for her dedication to the people she served, in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. Even through difficult times, she never forgot her duties.

Although she could not write laws, she gave advice to political leaders and let her opinions be known to the prime ministers of the United Kingdom who served during her time as queen. For instance, in the 1980s she supported a kind of punishment known as trade sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid policies, according to former prime minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, as reported by CBC News.

One of the Queen’s main roles was to be a kind of ambassador for the United Kingdom and to visit other nations.

Each year at Christmas, the Queen traditionally gave a speech to people around the world. Her first televised Christmastime message was in 1957 when she said, “I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”

Elizabeth was also known for her sense of humour and her love of animals, including her horses and corgi dogs.

Elizabeth’s husband, Philip, passed away two years ago, in April 2021.

Two days before she died, Elizabeth was working, performing her royal duties. She gave her official consent for the newest UK prime minister, Liz Truss, to take over that important leadership position.

This year marked Elizabeth’s “platinum jubilee,” celebrating the fact that she had been queen for 70 years.

The death of a monarch, and the crowning of a new one, are major events for people in the UK and the Commonwealth realms, and around the world. There are many traditions, including speeches and elaborate ceremonies, that will happen as the Queen is laid to rest and Charles takes the throne.

Charles has already given his first speech as king, in which he praised his mother’s lifetime of service and pledged to do the same. “Whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life,” he said.

While millions of people around the world are mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, many others have a different point of view about the monarchy. Many people dislike the monarchy because of colonization; (in this case it means that England historically (mostly pre-1707) took control over other countries).

The Queen’s funeral is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. GMT at Westminster Abbey in London, England. That day has been declared a holiday for people in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Thank you to KIRSTY THOMSON for her valuable assistance with this article.

* The monarch is the leader of two different Commonwealths. The “Commonwealth realms” are the 15 countries for which the monarch is the head of state; the “Commonwealth of Nations” is a wider organization of more than 50 nations, most of which were part of the British Empire (plus two that weren’t), but which don’t necessarily have the monarch as head of state anymore. (-KT)

King Charles III gives his first speech, reflecting on his mother’s legacy and pledging to serve the people of the Commonwealth.

THINK & DISCUSS

  1. What are your feelings about the Queen’s death? About Charles taking the throne?

2. List the nations in the Commonwealth realms. If you don’t live in one of them, does the Queen’s death matter to you? Why or why not? If you do live in one of them, what are your memories of the Queen?

3. The image of the Queen’s face is on the money (bills and coins) and postage stamps in most Commonwealth realms. What do you think will happen now that there is a king—and how do you think that should happen?

4. Thinking about colonialism, explain why some people say they feel conflicted about the monarchy and perhaps the Royal Family.

5. Before Camilla, Charles had a famous wife who unfortunately passed away in a car crash. What, if anything, do you know about her?

6. What are the following: (1) the United Kingdom, (2) Britain and (3) England?

7. Traditions play a big role in the ceremonies around the passing, and ascension, of monarchs. What are some of the traditions and ceremonies taking place in Britain and other countries related to the Queen’s death and the crowning of King Charles III?

8. There are many words in this article that may be unfamiliar to you. How many of these do you know? Look up the meanings of any words or phrases you’re unfamiliar with: pass away, lay to rest, mourning, ascension, monarchy, ambassador, realm, Commonwealth, sanction, ceremonies, colonization, condolences, the Royal Family, televised.

9. Some people, in talking about their feelings about the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, describe them as “complicated.” Do you think it’s possible to view the Queen and the Royal Family as separate from “the monarchy” or should they be considered as one? Explain.

10. The passing of the Queen of the United Kingdom, and the ascension of a new monarch, are rare events that receive attention around the globe. It is a unique time to be able to compare points of view from many different countries. Find reports of the Queen’s death from 5 different countries and compare the coverage. How are the articles and videos similar? How are they different?

VIDEOS

This delightful video, of the Queen and Paddington Bear, was released as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=7UfiCa244XE

This very funny song, “My Nan, Your Nan,” by comedian Greg Davies outlines some of the differences between his nan (grandmother) and then-Prince Harry’s nan (the Queen).

LINKS

The BBC’s obituary for the Queen: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-61605149

The BBC has many other excellent articles about the Queen here: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk/the_queen

BBC Newsround has an excellent article on the Queen for young people: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround

A timeline of dates relating to the Queen’s death and King Charles III’s coronation (ITV): https://www.itv.com/news/2022-09-09/what-happens-next-timetable-from-kings-speech-to-queens-state-funeral

BBC kids’ news article about plans for Britain’s money and postage stamps following the Queen’s passing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/62853410

King Charles’ III first speech as king (CBC News): https://globalnews.ca/news/9117681/king-charles-queen-elizabeth-prince-william-wales-1st-speech/

BBC article about Camilla: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59150068

Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/09/queen-elizabeth-death-memorable-speeches/