Royal gun salutes, flowers, and heartfelt tributes are among the commemorations in Britain, and worldwide, mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Great Britain will observe 10 days of mourning as the constitutional monarchy begins its formal process and transfer of power to her eldest son, King Charles III.
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The United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss hailed the Queen as a steady rock through the ages.
“Our country has flourished under her modern reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her,” Truss said.
Thursday, a double rainbow appeared in the sky over Buckingham Palace, shortly before the announcement of the Queen’s death – news that broke the hearts of many Brits.
“Shocked, I can’t believe it,” said someone outside the palace. “I’m gutted – absolutely gutted.”
Born April 21st, 1926 in London’s Mayfair District, Queen Elizabeth II was born to King George VI and became the Princess of Wales during WWII. And when her father died of cancer while she was on her honeymoon with Prince Phillip, the 25-year-old Princess became Queen in 1952.
“Prime Minister Winston Churchill is among the dignitaries who watched as the Archbishop of Canterbury confirms Elizabeth’s sovereignty, by placing on her the 6-pound King Edward’s Crown,” said a newscaster on the day of her coronation, June 2nd, 1953.
Known for her pageantry as a royal queen, her exemplary leadership, and her public statements of faith in Jesus Christ, Queen Elizabeth even developed a friendship founded in faith with the late American evangelist Billy Graham.
In The Queen’s Christmas Message from 2000, she said, “For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life… I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
Nicoletta Gullace, Associate Professor of history at the University of New Hampshire specializing in modern British history, says the monarch in Britain is in some ways the head of the Church of England, and Elizabeth took that role very seriously.
“She never missed a remembrance Sunday, when they remembered the vets and the two world wars,” Gullace said. “She tried hard to make it this year, but mobility and health got in the way. The only other time she missed was when she was pregnant. She attended church services regularly and gave a warming and inspiring address to the nation every Christmas.”
In her 2012 Christmas message, the queen told her nation, “This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Her handling of foreign relations along with the pageantry of The Crown made her a beloved figure around the world.
“London Bridge is Down” are the code words for the Queen’s death – spoken Thursday by her private secretary to inform the prime minister and the council of her passing, setting into motion the plan known as “London Bridge,” which are the events leading up to the coronation of her son, King Charles III.
“Details of it were leaked to the press, so we know almost exactly what the protocols are likely to be,” Gullace said.
She went on to say the death of the Queen is going to “shake Britons to their core” and it’s also going to have an impact throughout the Commonwealth – 15 countries whose monarch and head of state is now Charles III. “He is king, because the minute her spirit leaves her body, he became king,” said Gullace. “It is a mystical thing that happens.”
Queen Elizabeth died at the age of 96 in her Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle, Thursday. She ruled for 70-years, longer than any other monarch, and saw 15 Prime Ministers lead Britain during her reign. Her death came shortly after an announcement from Parliament about her failing health.
Great Britain begins 10-days of mourning, Friday. The Queen’s body will be sent by train to King’s Cross Station. Charles will be there with Prime Minister Truss. The Queen will lie in state at Westminster hall and her funeral will take place at Westminster Abby.
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