By Shohom Chakraborty
On the evening of September 8, 2022, British television channels interrupted their regular broadcasts with breaking news. Crowds began to gather behind the tall iron gates of Buckingham Palace in London while over 30 million people watched the announcement live. Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in modern history, passed away in Scotland at the age of 96. This abruptly ended the queen’s 70-year reign, a period characterized by international reform. To many, this event has marked the end of an era not only for the United Kingdom, but for the entire world.
“She left a global impact on so many different countries, both good and bad, but generally, I think she tried to do what she thought was best,” junior Rosina Zhenter said.
The queen was enthroned in 1952, following the sudden demise of her father, King George VI. Her extensive tenure stretched across history from the Cold War to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her role as head of the largest empire in history has made her a prominent figure. Queen Elizabeth engaged with the rest of the nation through public events. She was devoted to her country, visiting all the Commonwealth nations at least once, and serving on the front lines of World War II prior to her coronation.
Now, eyes turn to King Charles III, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, and to his wife, Queen Consort Camilla. The royal family is rapidly changing, and the UK is too; the country’s national anthem will be changed from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King.” Additionally, new banknotes and stamps with the King’s face will be introduced.
Artwork by Guneet Hanjara
King Charles succeeding Queen Elizabeth provokes a cultural shift across the world as individuals, governments and the royal family react to her passing.
“The queen has been present in our lives for longer than most of us were alive. She therefore represents a constant in the world, even as we witnessed some of the most catastrophic and world altering events during her life," senior Paul Wang said. "She lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, 9/11 and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Although her legacy is certainly shrouded in controversy, she has provided a sense of stability and security at times of drastic change.”
Although it has received praise, the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II has garnered criticism as well. The British Empire was infamous for its imperialism that caused famines, conflict and poverty. Additionally, Britain plundered a plethora of valuable artifacts from its colonies, including the Koh-i-noor, a precious diamond stolen from India. Many believe the queen did not do enough in regards to stopping these practices of her nation.
“Though there’s obviously a lot of cultural significance, prestige and tradition behind the late Queen’s position, it doesn’t justify her sitting idly by, watching atrocities like the suppression of the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya,” senior Ishita Bansal said.
“Despite her actions being very controversial for her circumstances, she did what she could for the people she could,” junior Rosina Zhenter said.
Furthermore, given that the nation is now a democracy, the British monarch’s role in government has been relegated to mostly ceremonial duties. Due to the Crown’s lack of executive power, many people, especially those outside of the UK, have been apathetic towards the queen’s death.
“To many, this event has marked the end of an era not only for the United Kingdom, but for the entire world...”
“Although I was startled by the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death, I’ve been indifferent to her passing. At this point, given that the UK has become less dependent on the royal family, the monarchy seems nothing more than a formality to me,” senior Taseen Tanzil said.
“I was pretty surprised when I learned that the queen had passed. However, in the modern world, I don’t think there’s any reason to maintain the British monarchy. I personally see no downside in returning precious jewels such as the Kohinoor and using the money going towards the monarchy for a better cause,” freshman Dhruv Maheshwari said.
Although the death of Queen Elizabeth II has been received in various ways, it can be universally agreed that this was the end of an era.