Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch, has passed away at the age of 96. The Commonwealth’s ruler for over 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed World War II, British decolonization, the Cold War, the birth of the Internet and much more throughout her life. 15 prime ministers served under her reign, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, the latter of whom took office just two days before the Queen died. Queen Elizabeth II has also been monarch for nearly 30% of the United States’s existence as an independent country, meaning she met with 13 US presidents in her lifetime.
The Queen’s eldest son, Charles, succeeded his mother immediately upon her death, and will now be referred to as King Charles III. His wife, Camila, is now the Queen Consort. With King Charles’s ascension to the throne, the British line of succession has shifted; William, Charles’s eldest son and the new next-in-line, will take on the title of heir apparent and is expected to gain his father’s old title of the Prince of Wales.
The Queen’s death has big implications for the Commonwealth, a group of countries that is made up of the United Kingdom and 55 other independent nations including Canada, Australia and South Africa. Queen Elizabeth is featured on 33 of those countries’ currencies, which will now have to be changed per United Kingdom tradition. This undertaking is expected to take upwards of two years and cost billions, as reported by the Guardian. The United Kingdom’s anthem has also changed to “God Save the King” instead of “God Save the Queen.”
The United Kingdom began its 12-day mourning period on Sept. 8, the day of the Queen’s death, which will culminate in a state funeral. Since the Queen died in Balmoral Castle in Scotland, her funeral plans follow “Operation Unicorn,” which will see her coffin lay at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland for three to four days before being flown back to London for her body to rest in state.
Recently, members of the Scottish government have been advocating for an independence referendum. With the Queen dead and a brand-new Prime Minister assuming office, Scottish independence may become a reality in the near future.
For everyone younger than 70, Queen Elizabeth II was the only British monarch they have ever known. Love or hate her, the Queen’s rule as one of the longest-reigning monarchs ever is sure to go down in history.