Queen Elizabeth II’s death at 96 was not wholly unexpected, but still had a significant impact on countless people.
On the afternoon of September 8th, Queen Elizabeth II, the queen of the United Kingdom and leader of the Commonwealth, died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Having been Queen for 70 years, through the decline of the British empire to the internet era, Queen Elizabeth’s death shook the United Kingdom as well as the rest of the world because of all she accomplished and symbolized.
As the monarch of the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II’s death warranted considerable grief and rites throughout the country. For ten days, beginning on the ninth of September, hundreds of thousands of people paid their respects at her casket and sports games and concerts were canceled in her honor.
The Queen’s death was not only impactful in the U.K. but also in former British colonies as the Queen was the symbol of the government that greatly shaped the lives of the people living in these colonies. For many, the violent and oppressive actions of British authorities in former colonies make it difficult to mourn the Queen. Farooq Kperogi, professor of communication at Kennesaw State University told CNN, “The Queen’s legacy started in colonialism and is still wrapped in it. It used to be said that the sun did not set over the British empire. No amount of compassion or sympathy that her death has generated can wipe that away.” The Queen’s reign was also a time of modernization for the British empire as numerous colonies gained independence. Many of these countries remained connected to the U.K. by joining the Commonwealth to promote democracy and cooperation, and Queen Elizabeth was devoted to her role as their symbolic leader by regularly visiting member countries to stay connected with them. Those actions and legacy lead to more positive feelings towards her reign such as those of Dele Momodu, a magazine publisher from Nigeria who told CNN that, “She came to Nigeria during our independence and some of the artifacts were returned under her reign. That is why the Commonwealth continues to thrive. I feel very sad that the world has lost a great human being.”
Even in the United States, plenty of people mourned the death of the Queen. A recognizable public figure who has been present for most of the lives of many Americans, her death united citizens and politicians in grief and shock. As President Biden attested to the New York Times, she was, “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy.” The legacy Biden describes could be seen throughout her reign as she dealt with the changing role of the British empire after WWII, tried to modernize public views of the monarchy, and stayed dedicated to maintaining neutrality on political issues in order for the government to run fairly. Her reign was not without its challenges, however, like the many scandals surrounding the marriages of her children, the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, and debates about the future of the monarchy. Throughout the decades and difficulties, she continued to act with dignity and be a unifying symbol of the U.K. as well as a figure of grace to others around the globe.