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Queen Elizabeth II

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Queen Elizabeth II has died at 96 after a 70-year reign, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. Earlier in the day, the queen was reported to be under “medical supervision,” after months of declining mobility and missed engagements. Elizabeth’s family traveled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she has long spent her summers, as the news of her rapidly declining health emerged.

At the time Elizabeth was born, in 1926, her father was the Duke of York, but he took the throne after his older brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated. King George VI died in 1952, and his daughter became queen, and, eventually, the longest-reigning British monarch. Married for 73 years to Philip Mountbatten, she had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Princess Anne; Prince Andrew; and Prince Edward. As a teenaged princess, Elizabeth enlisted in the British armed forces to serve as a mechanic, living under German bombardment and the threat of invasion rather than flee to Canada as some had advised. She celebrated in the streets with ordinary citizens on V-E Day in 1945.

The queen’s death comes at a time of turmoil for Great Britain. Just this week, Liz Truss became prime minister after Boris Johnson was forced out by a series of scandals. Inflation is high in the United Kingdom, and expected to peak this fall. The country faces a major labor shortage. Whatever you think of monarchy in general or Britain’s in particular, Queen Elizabeth II has been a defining figure in the life of the nation for 70 years.

She will be succeeded by Prince Charles, himself already 73 years old.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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