I admit it: I have been a “fan” of Queen Elizabeth ever since I was little and she was a young princess. For me, a little girl, there was magic in royalty, and I loved reading about her, hearing about her on the radio and then seeing her on television.
The queen lived an almost magical, life and now it is over. Thursday Elizabeth II died at age 96. While her death was not unexpected, the reality of it hurt. I admit, I shed some tears for someone who felt like a friend, and judging by the news coverage of her death, I’m not the only one who cried.
Royalty was something of fairy tales, but for Elizabeth and her sister Margaret Rose, their lives to me were those tales come true. And I loved it.
So enamored was I, that when Elizabeth was to marry, I decided to write her a letter. My father was a professional photographer, and I got the bright idea that I would offer his services to the princess for her wedding!
I wrote the letter (my folks thought I was a nut), and even the clerk at the post office was amazed at my mailing a letter to the royal family. Mind you, I was just a little kid, but apparently, I had big ideas.
I waited and waited and … nothing. No response, and to this day I regret that I didn’t follow up later, with a letter telling the queen what I had done.
But because of that pseudo-contact with the princess, I’ve felt a connection of sorts. I have followed with interest the ups and downs of her reign. The ups deal with her success as a monarch – a woman who kept up a schedule of travel and appointments that would have wilted almost anyone.
I read about her wedding and then, after her father died and she became queen, I saw her coronation on television. It was early, crinkly, black and white TV, but it was a picture of some of the magic I relished.
I followed her reign over the years and privately cheered for her as she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this past June. She became the second-longest-reigning monarch in known history at 70 years and 127 days. She already was the longest-reigning monarch in British history since 2015, when she overtook Queen Victoria, who had been head of state from June 20, 1837, to Jan. 22, 1901.
In addition to dealing with the obligations of being the queen, Elizabeth was also a wife and mother. She and Prince Philip were married for 73 years, until his death in 2021. They had four children and, as with many families, the kids proved a burden in many ways. Despite the escapades and personal problems her children had with their lives and marriages, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip remained, at least to the public, above the fray.
I admit that as I read of the problems she and Prince Philip faced with their children and their spouses, I was amazed that never was there a hint to the public of how she personally felt about the issues and controversies. She kept it private except for one year, 1992, which she referred to as “an Annus Horribilis” (horrible year). Overall, she was a picture of personal strength.
Queen Elizabeth had another trait I loved – she loved her many corgi dogs and her horses. Someone who loves animals the way she did is quite special. And so she was!
She was part of the World War II generation, and during that war, she joined the Woman’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. In that job, she worked as a driver and truck mechanic! In fact, she was the first female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces, and until her death, she remained the only living head of state to serve.
During Elizabeth’s reign, she became the most traveled monarch in history – having visited 110 countries. She was a patron to more than 600 organizations and charities, and her work schedule really did not diminish until recently.
In fact, just two days before her death, she met with Liz Truss, the new, British prime minister.
In the few days before her death, while Elizabeth was at Balmoral Castle, her estate in Scotland, doctors expressed concern about her condition and ordered her to rest and cancel appointments. Her children traveled to be with her.
In fact, her condition was critical, and she died with Charles and Ann at her side. The other children arrived after she passed.
There will be an official 10 days of mourning as of now, and details about her funeral will be announced.
One thing we do know now is that her eldest son, Prince Charles, is now king; he will be called Charles III. His coronation will be scheduled later. Life goes on.
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