On the passing of Queen Elizabeth the II


On September 8th, 2022, a shocking announcement was made. I remember walking in the halls from 5th to 6th hour and overhearing someone tell their friend that “the queen is dead!” At first, I took it as a sick sort of joke to tell someone, but just moments later my worst fears were confirmed. At age 96, Queen Elizabeth the II was Britain’s longest reigning monarch. While she is widely beloved by many, her passing leaves a complicated legacy.


At just age 21, then Princess Elizabeth told the world that her “whole life, whether it be short or long, will be devoted to your service.” And up until her death, she worked hard to fulfill her promise.


World War II began when she was only 13, however, that didn’t stop her from working to boost the morale of the British people, especially the children who had been separated from their parents. At 14, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret broadcasted a radio message across Britain providing hope and comfort to the many children who were separated from their families and whose lives were uprooted during the time of unrest.


In her first address, she says, “Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers … we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all. To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country”


As the war continued, her involvement only got stronger. At age 18, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she was promoted to Junior Captain. Nicknamed the “Princess Auto Mechanic”, she took training courses on driving and vehicle maintenance. 


Queen Elizabeth was crowned on June 2nd of 1953, over 14 months after she ascended to the throne. During her reign, she shaped the Commonwealth during a time of chaos. Starting in 1947, many of the British Commonwealths, such as India, Ghana, and Oman, wanted more freedom and independence from the British throne. It was Queen Elizabeth’s duty to guide the country through this time and lead them to stability.


While she did help keep the British empire from a complete collapse, many people from the formerly colonized nations don’t quite feel the same sentiment as felt by many regarding the passing of the Queen. People from India, Ireland, Pakistan, and Barbados feel that the Queen did not do enough to correct the many injustices of the British empire. 


Kenyan Cartoonist Patrick Gathara says that “To this day, [Queen Elizabeth] has never publicly admitted, let alone apologized, for the oppression, torture, dehumanization and dispossession visited upon people in the colony of Kenya before and after she acceded to the throne.” And he provides a valid point. Even during her rule as monarch, there were many violences committed in the name of the British empire.


Between 1952 and 1960, a group of Kenyans fighting for freedom started an uprising against their British ruler. Around 1.5 million people were forced into British concentration camps and were put through many human rights violations. Later reports show that the British worked to burn important records that may reveal the many atrocities of the brutal crackdown.


Indian Canadian Scaahi Koul puts it very bluntly: “There’s something uniquely pitiful about mourning a woman who has been running an organization notorious for its genocidal tendencies.”


Despite the many injustices that the monarchy committed, the Queen also worked tirelessly to support charities around the world. It is said that she supported over 600 charities in Great Britain, and over 3,000 charities around the world. Queen Elizabeth did more for charity than any other monarch in British history; it is estimated that she has helped raise nearly $2 billion for different charitable organizations.


There are those who say that the 19th century never ended until the death of Queen Victoria. The same goes for Queen Elizabeth. Her death finally lays the 20th century to rest. The death of Queen Elizabeth the II leaves behind a complicated legacy, however, it is one that we will never be able to forget.






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Mizokami, K. (2022, September 9). Queen Elizabeth Didn’t Sit Out World War II. Popular Mechanics; Popular Mechanics. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a41135888/how-queen-elizabeth-ii-served-in-ww2/

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Koul, S. (2022, September 9). The Queen Represented Racist Violence As Much As She Did Glamour. BuzzFeed News; BuzzFeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/scaachikoul/queen-elizabeth-colonialism-racism-british-empire

Kimeu, C. (2022, September 12). “A brutal legacy”: Queen’s death met with anger as well as grief in Kenya. The Guardian; The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/12/queen-death-kenya-colonial-rule-mau-mau-uprising

Ishisaka, N. (2022, September 19). A complicated goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/a-complicated-goodbye-to-queen-elizabeth-ii/