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Queen Elizabeth dies at 96; Charles III ascends to the throne

The new British monarch, King Charles III, makes his first address to the nation after the Queen’s death, at 6 pm Friday (10:30 pm Friday, IST).

LONDON, Sept 8: Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96. A life marked by a strong sense of duty came to an end, the BBC said.

Queen Elizabeth had not been keeping well for some time and had stayed put at her Scottish estate during the summer. The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, travelled to Scotland on Tuesday to receive the appointment as the Queen was not to return to Buckingham Palace soon due to what was described as “episodic mobility problems” especially since the death of her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the longest-serving royal consort, last year.

When the doctors expressed their concern, the Queen's eldest son and king-in-waiting Prince Charles guessed it right and reached the palace on time to be at her bedside as she breathed her last. Other royals too rushed there, but most of them missed the moment.

A non-controversial figurehead popular among the masses, she died as the oldest queen at 96. She was on the throne for 70 years and 214 days, the longest ever in British history, having celebrated the platinum jubilee on February 6, 2022 - the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum. Starting with Winston Churchill, she had worked with 14 Prime Ministers.

Funeral

The body will be brought to Buckingham Palace in London on Friday and will lie in state for four days at Westminster Hall, a part of the Palace of Westminster, before funeral, for the masses to pay respects. The funeral will be at Westminster Abbey, may be about ten days later.

Charles succeeded to the throne automatically and immediately. A king-in-waiting for the longest period, Charles is the oldest ever to be crowned at an age of 73. Unlike the queen, he may be outspoken and could be unrestrained on occasion.

On Friday he was scheduled to address the nation as the new monarch at 6 pm London time (10:30 pm Friday, IST). He will pledge his duty to a life of service, just as his mother did in 1952, in the recorded televised address. “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family," he had said on Thursday in a statement.

After an Accession Council meeting at St James’s Palace on Saturday he will be proclaimed as the monarch. However, the coronation at Westminster Abbey is expected to take months. The Queen's coronation was a year after the succession in February 1952. The Archbishop of Canterbury will then place the ancient gold crown on his head. Prince Charles will become King Charles III.

The royal scandals

During her time, traditions were respected but departures were not objected to. Instances were princess Diana's behaviour in "Squidgygate"; son Charles' second marriage; grandson Prince Harry's marriage and breaking with the royals. Then there was her second son Prince Andrew's embarrassing adventures which she handled with dignity too. Prince Andrew was stripped of his royal patronages and military titles after trafficking cases came to light. Then what happened to Princess Anne, the only daughter of the Queen? Yet another was Harry's cannabis case. Mostly 1990s were rocked by scandals.

There were serious scandals affecting the reputation of the royalty earlier also: King Edward VIII abdicated the crown in 1936 so he could marry a divorced American woman (that finally led to Elizabeth's unexpected coronation). Then there was sibling Princess Margaret's affairs, in 1953 - stories of failed affairs and a divorce to occur among royals in hundreds of years.

No political parties in the UK is anti-royal and there has not been any resistance shown by any sections. Still some do raise questions over the cost to the exchequer of retaining the system of monarchy and seek to abolish it. However, the queen's recently held platinum jubilee was a mark of her popularity.

While the Queen kept the unity of all the regions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland intact, there is uncertainty about the Scotland movement for separation.

She never took sides during the long tenure but was not mute either. Her tenure was marked by stability and her reputation was without a blemish.

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