The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: An Overview


Mrs. Evelyn

A close-up of one of the many notes.

Who was Queen Elizabeth II?
Elizabeth II was born in 1926 to Prince Albert of York, later to become King George VI, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As a child, she had little hope of ever ascending the throne since her father was the younger son of King George V. However, in 1936 her uncle, King Edward VII, abdicated the throne and Elizabeth’s father became king, putting Elizabeth first in line to the British throne, and her sister Margaret second.

In 1947, at the age of 21, Princess Elizabeth married Lt. Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy. Only 5 years later, King George VI died, and Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, becoming the sixth ruling queen of England and head of the Anglican church.

Throughout Elizabeth II’s reign, she attempted to promote a less glorified image of the royal family while ruling over a rapidly evolving country and society. In 1992, the royal family suffered the separation of Prince Charles’ and Prince Andrew’s marriages, a divorce, and a terrible fire at Windsor Castle, as well as a sweeping wave of resentment toward the royal family as a result of an economic recession. The queen referred to this year as the annus horribilis or “terrible year”.
Throughout her life, she appointed 15 Prime Ministers, owned about 30 corgis, and attended over 170 garden parties.
The Queen died on September 8, 2022 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96 after having ruled the country for 70 years, the longest of any English monarch in history.

Who is King Charles III?
Charles III was born in 1948, the eldest child of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He became prince of Wales in 1958 at the age of 9. In 1981, Charles married Lady Diana Frances Spencer. They had two children: Prince William of Wales in 1982, and Prince Henry “Harry” in 1984. However, the strain of royal life caused Charles and Diana to separate in 1992, and divorce 4 years later. Charles married his current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, in 2005.

King Charles III ascended the throne on September 8, 2022 upon the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

A picture of Queen Elizabeth II with her beloved corgis. (Mrs. Evelyn)

What is the process for crowning a new monarch?
Traditionally, the monarch is crowned at Westminster Abbey some months after the death of the preceding sovereign. The monarch is first presented to the people. Then, he or she swears an oath to the Anglican church, and is anointed with oil and crowned. A banquet usually follows at Buckingham Palace.

The date of King Charles III’s official coronation is June 3, 2023.

What is the role of the British monarch in politics?
The British monarch is the head of state, and must retain a neutral political front. Even though the sovereign is the head of state and commander in chief of the British military, the real extent of the monarch’s power is to appoint Prime Ministers and bestow honors. The individual with the most power in the British government is the Prime Minister.

How does the line of succession work?
The British line of succession is more complex than one might assume. First in line for the throne is the eldest child of the current monarch. In this case, the son of King Charles III and Princess Diana, Prince William, 40, is first in line for the throne. Next comes the eldest child of the first in line to the throne. Therefore, Prince George, 9, the son of Prince William and his wife Catherine, is second in line for the throne. After Prince George come his siblings Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.

After Prince William and his three children come Prince Harry, William’s brother and Charles III’s second son, and his two children, and so on.


For more in this series, check out “The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: UK Reactions” and “The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: US Reactions”.