Queen Elizabeth II | Obituary

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Obituary – Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

It was Henry VIII who was first given the title of Defender of the Faith, by a grateful Pope for defending the Catholic Church’s teaching against the denunciations of Martin Luther. Despite his break from Rome, Henry clung on to it, and every English and later British monarch has since claimed it. From the start of her reign in 1952, when she succeeded her father, George VI, the coins which bore the head of Elizabeth II still referred to that title. Elizabeth DG, Reg, FD, they have said for 70 years: Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith. But perhaps no other monarch has ever been quite such a staunch defender of the Christian faith as Elizabeth II, who sadly died at the age of 96. 

  • Died: September 8th, 2022
  • Details of death: died peacefully in Balmoral Castle.

Childhood

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, during the reign of her grandfather George V. The first child of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – who would later be known as King George VI and the Queen Mother, respectively, – Queen Elizabeth was born third in line to become Britain’s monarch.

During her youth, Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret were taught at home by governess Marion Crawford (dubbed ‘Crawfie’ by the young royals) and later received private tuition in Constitutional History from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, as well as religious lessons from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Academic courses during her youth included French, Mathematics, History, as well as Dancing, Singing and Art. It’s well-known the royal became fluent in French and German (a skill she showed in 2014 while addressing a State Banquet in both English and French at the Élysée Palace).

In her spare time, the Queen enjoyed taking part in activities within the Buckingham Palace Girl Guides Company – a version of the UK’s Brownies and Guides – which was created for the young princesses and their cousins, in addition to palace staff’s children. From a young age the Queen also showed a love of horses and began riding lessons, aged 5, in 1931 with Henry Owen, a groom at White Lodge, Richmond Park. In 1938 the royal received riding training from Horace Smith in Berkshire and is believed to have continued riding until the later years of her life.

Elizabeth was 13 years old when WWII broke out on September 3, 1939. Like many children living in London, Elizabeth and her sister were evacuated out of the city to the Royal Lodge at Windsor Castle. In October 1940, a 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth broadcast a message to evacuees on the radio programme Children’s Hour, urging them to have courage. ‘When peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place,’ she said.

The Queen joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service aged 18 to help in the war effort and rose to the rank of Subaltern (which is the equivalent to Army Lieutenant) and Junior Commander (Army Captain). She began her training as a mechanic in March 1945 and undertook a driving and vehicle maintenance course at Aldershot, qualifying a month later. Elizabeth broke new ground during this time for the Monarchy, becoming the first female of the Royal family to be an active-duty member of the British Armed Forces.

 

Marriage

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were first introduced at the wedding of his first cousin, Princess Marina, in 1934. The Corfu-born Philip was the Prince of Greece and Denmark, and five years older than Princess Elizabeth.

During his military beginnings at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Philip was delegated to escort his distant cousins Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret while their parents took a tour around in 1939. According to Elizabeth’s governess Marion Crawford’s memoir, The Little Princesses, the princess was drawn to Philip’s ‘viking’ good looks and he caused her to turn ‘pink-faced’.

In the years that followed, he and Princess Elizabeth exchanged many letters and during a visit to stay with the Royal Family over Christmas in 1943, it’s believed Elizabeth placed a photo of Philip, in his uniform, on her dressing table.

In 1946, Philip asked Elizabeth’s father for permission to marry her. However, prior to the announcement of their engagement the Prince had to renounce his Greek title and become a British citizen, taking on his mother’s anglicised name, Mountbatten. The couple announced their engagement to the public in July 1947. Prince Philip proposed with a ring made by the jeweller Philip Antrobus, which featured diamonds from a tiara belonging to Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. The day before the wedding, King George VI gave Philip the title of His Royal Highness.

The pair married on November 20, 1947 at London’s Westminster Abbey. The former Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, described the day as a ‘flash of colour’ in a grey post-war Britain. For her wedding, the Queen wore a floor-length gown, featuring floral and star patterns inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera painting, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell. The dress was made from duchess satin and decorated with 10,000 seed pearls imported from the US. As Britain was subject to rationing at the time, the Queen collected clothing coupons to pay for the dress.

In 2017, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh became the first couple in the Royal Family to celebrate their Platinum Wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, the pair were pictured in three portraits, taken by British photographer Matt Holyoak, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

 

Becoming Queen

It was during the Queen’s Commonwealth tour that she learnt of her father’s passing on February 6, 1952.

Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey, at the tender age of 25. On the morning of the coronation, which saw her become the 39th Sovereign to be crowned at the Abbey, the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were driven from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach pulled by eight grey gelding horses.

Crowds flocked to London to watch the coronation, in the rain, in June 1953 and, a sign of changing times, the ceremony was broadcast live on television, despite the objections of some palace advisers, dramatically boosting the sale of sets. The coronation inaugurated a new media age in which events could be watched from the comfort of an armchair. The Times described the Queen as willingly sacrificing herself to the Almighty and the nation: “She has the reward of the selfless in the pure joy of duty, amply, generously done.”

Her official title reads: Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

 

The death of Prince Philip

The death of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99 struck on 9 April 2021 and deprived Her Majesty of a companion who had stood by her loyally over an extraordinary 74 years of marriage. The Queen’s consort was known for his often-off-colour public remarks but rightly celebrated as a singular and lively individual keenly committed to the issues he cared about, not least his beloved wife. Without his devotion and good humour behind the scenes, it is questionable whether she could have led the country as formidably as she did – the Queen rarely, if ever, cancelled a public appearance or succumbed to illness and demonstrated her skill during the coronavirus pandemic when, at 94, she gave a televised address to reassure the public and call for a spirit of togetherness. It was only very belatedly that signs of frailty emerged in the use of a walking stick at two back-to-back public engagements and an unusual overnight stay in hospital, which forced her to pull out of a trip to Northern Ireland. Prince Charles standing in for her at the State Opening of Parliament in May 2022 gave the public its first glimpse of a future without her at the helm.

She rallied, however, to enjoy the four days of festivities organised to celebrate her platinum jubilee in June 2022, surprising everyone by appearing in a short film alongside a CGI Paddington Bear in which the pair took tea together at Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty finally revealed what had been concealed inside her trusty black handbag for all these years: an emergency marmalade sandwich. The skit recalled her earlier screen appearance alongside Daniel Craig’s James Bond, filmed for the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games in 2012, and showcased her wry sense of humour to the fullest.

 

Her final constitutional duties

Just two days before her death, Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister and Truss was appointed to succeed him. Each had to go to Balmoral for the purpose, rather than to Buckingham Palace, for what proved to be the last constitutional acts the Queen performed.

By the end of her reign, Britain’s people had vastly changed in outlook and circumstances. Despite all the monarchy’s vicissitudes, however, Queen Elizabeth II, a figure from another age, who was stiff and formal and not noticeably particularly warm and empathetic, had won and retained the affection, loyalty and support of the overwhelming majority of the British public, who respected her for her diligence and sense of duty.

She is survived by their four children, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

 

Date of birth: 21st April 1926

Date of Death: 8th September 2022 (aged 96)

 

 

 

Sources:

The Tablet – https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/15850/queen-elizabeth-ii-an-obituary

Elle.com – https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/culture/a41065066/queen-elizabeth-ii-obituary/

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/08/queen-elizabeth-ii-obituary

Independent – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/queen-elizabeth-died-age-cause-obituary-b2101376.html