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Elizabeth II: the immense size of the British Queen

She was the longest reigning monarch in the United Kingdom after 70 years of reign and was noted for her great sense of duty
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PHOTO/FILE  -   In this file photo taken on June 7, 1951, British Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, greets the people wearing a diamond crown. Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history and an instantly recognisable icon to billions of people around the world, has died at the age of 96

Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 at her summer residence at Balmoral in Scotland, UK, after a long career as a monarch. This is the farewell of a Queen much loved by the British people who has covered 70 years of national history with her reign, which shows the importance of her relevant figure. 

Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father George VI in 1952 and has since appointed every prime minister for 70 years from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, the recent successor to Boris Johnson. 

Elizabeth II showed a great sense of duty and performed her duties with unquestionable professionalism, which gave her an important moral authority over the rest of the Royal Court and over the British people themselves. Despite the political airs and graces that question the institution of the monarchy as such in other latitudes, the figure of Elizabeth II was unquestionable and reinforced the role of the British Monarchy as a guarantee of political and social stability in the United Kingdom.

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AP/SUNDAY ALAMBA - Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability for much of a turbulent century, died Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, after 70 years on the throne

The outpouring of grief and affection following the death of Queen Elizabeth II from the British public and from politicians around the world and members of other monarchical institutions testifies to the scale of the personal and political figure of Elizabeth II. 

Expressions of condolences for the loss of the Queen of the United Kingdom have come from all corners of the world, from the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to King Felipe VI himself, to Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic of France, and even Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, who has been very negatively affected on the international stage by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is international unanimity in the very positive assessment of the figure of Elizabeth II. 

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PHOTO/CHRIS JACKSON via AP - From left, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony at the end of the Platinum Jubilee parade outside Buckingham Palace in London on Sunday 5 June 2022, the last of four days of celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee

Elizabeth II was crowned at the age of 25, but despite her youth and apparent fragility, she showed great fortitude, capacity for command, a sense of duty and a great performance of her work at the head of the monarchical institution, which she has carried out uninterruptedly until the age of 96. She became the great symbol par excellence of the British Monarchy and the unifying element of sympathy for the Crown of the United Kingdom, despite the various scandals of all kinds that shook some of her sons, such as Prince Charles, who now succeeds her at the age of 73 as Charles III, and Prince Andrew. Her figure has thus served to bring political and social stability to the United Kingdom for no less than 70 years.

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AFP/DANIEL LEAL - In this file photo taken on June 2, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II meets Prince Charles of Wales

The reign of Elizabeth II was not expected as such, her accession to the throne came after a process that began with the unexpected abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 and the accession to the throne of George VI at a very delicate moment marked by the Second World War. The young princess also had to face this situation and showed her strong character, even offering her support during the war as a car mechanic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947 she married Philip Mountbatten, who was to become the Duke of Edinburgh, and the news of their marriage was a small joy for the people in those hard post-war times marked by rationing and austerity after a Second World War fought against the regime of Adolf Hitler's Germany, a fight that was basically for something as important as world freedom from the Nazi threat, and in which the United Kingdom, like many other countries, suffered the ravages of war and bombing. 

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AP/FILE - Britain's Princess Elizabeth sits behind the wheel of an ambulance in April 1945 after completing a driving instruction course at the A.T.S. Centre to become an officer

Little by little, Elizabeth II consolidated her reign and brought stability to a country during the years of uncertainty and instability that followed the Second World War and which marked the Cold War period, a period characterised by the international confrontation between the capitalist and democratic West led by the United States, with the United Kingdom as the main reference point, and the communist East under the iron rule of the single party system led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

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AP/FILE - This official photo from July 10, 1947 shows Princess Elizabeth, heir to the British throne, and her fiancé, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, in London

Elizabeth II inherited a British Monarchy that had for centuries seen its international power, the famous British Empire, decline with the times, but she did manage to maintain the prestige of the British Crown. The political role of all the kings and queens of the monarchies in modern times has become less and less important, but in the case of Elizabeth II the popular social and also moral influence on the various political strata has been maintained thanks to her sense of duty and her "professionalism" in carrying out her duties as Queen of England. 

She always showed great fortitude, despite certain difficult family moments such as the marital separation of up to three of her children: Anne, Andrew and Charles, the latter being the most notorious because of the figure of Princess Diana of Welsh, and the abrupt break-up with her to formally establish a relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. The Queen herself referred to the height of these scandals, 1992, as the "Annus Horribilis" of the British monarchy. She overcame these difficult moments by showing her fortitude and, above all, by dedicating herself to her position as Queen of all Britons. And she also showed humility, as when she addressed the entire British nation in a televised speech to acknowledge mistakes and apologise for the issues that brought the British Royal Court into disrepute, and when she bowed her head as Diana of Wales' funeral procession passed by after she died in a car accident in Paris, despite the controversy surrounding the separation between the then Prince Charles and Lady Di. 

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AFP/ADRIAN DENNIS - In this file photo taken on April 21, 2006, Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she walks down Windsor High Street as part of her 80th birthday celebrations

She also showed understanding and a sense of duty to the outside world, not just internally to the British people themselves. In this case, with respect to the Commonwealth countries, she always showed strong support for them and for the organisation itself, which is a community of nations, formerly known as the Commonwealth of Nations, comprising more than 50 sovereign independent and semi-independent countries that share historic ties with the United Kingdom. Even when her own prime ministers had lost faith in the Commonwealth itself, Elizabeth II, as British head of state and the visible head of the Commonwealth itself, mediated between the member states themselves and provided support and dialogue even to members of the Commonwealth at odds with the British government. 

Charles III's task now will be difficult, virtually impossible to emulate, even in part, the political and personal dimension of Elizabeth II.