Queen Elizabeth II of the House of Windsor, monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and royal sovereign of a number of Commonwealth countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, has died.
She passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The announcement of her death was made on Sep. 9 (Singapore time). She was 96 years old.
She is survived by her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died in April 2021. Charles is now the King of the United Kingdom and will be crowned as such.
The coronation of a Queen
Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning monarch in the history of England and the UK, who acceded to the throne in 1952, at just 25 years old.
Her father, George VI, died after suffering from ill health for some years. King George reigned during World War 2, after his brother Edward VIII abdicated the throne and married American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
He and his wife, also called Elizabeth, of the Bowes-Lyon family, had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.
During the war, her family refused to evacuate England, and the Princess Elizabeth trained as a mechanic and a lorry driver in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
She married a fellow royal, Philip, prince of both Greece and Denmark in 1947.
As a boy, Philip's family was banished from Greece after the war with Turkey which ended in 1922. Philip was educated for some years in Scotland, and joined the Royal Navy, serving as an officer in World War 2.
Philip then gave up his Greek and Danish royal titles to marry Elizabeth, and was made Duke of Edinburgh. Their first two children, Charles and Anne, were born in 1948 and 1950.
However, their time as a relatively private family was cut short when King George VI died.
His daughter chose her own name as her regnant name, making her Queen Elizabeth the Second, following Elizabeth Tudor who reigned in the 16th century.
Her coronation ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey in 1953, which was televised for the first time in UK history.
In her role as Queen, Elizabeth was the head of state. She was responsible for constitutional and representational duties, while the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected Parliament.
Informally, she met regularly with the Prime Minister of the UK, the head of government. Her first Prime Minister was Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime leader who lost the postwar election, but returned to power in 1951.
Including Churchill, Elizabeth appointed and counselled fifteen Prime Ministers, from Sir Anthony Eden to Liz Truss.
Her near-seven decade reign saw massive, sweeping changes in both the national and global landscape.
The UK went from a colonial power before World War 2, to post-war scarcity and rationing, then ascended as a nuclear power, revived pop culture in the swinging 1960s, to strikes and protests in the turbulent 1970s and 1980s, to the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and the referendum on Brexit in 2016.
Throughout the years, Elizabeth was a constant presence on the world stage, making frequent trips to Commonwealth nations and other British allies.
She has met with every U.S. president since World War 2 beginning with Harry Truman, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson.
The Queen in Singapore
Elizabeth had visited Singapore three times, the first in 1972, followed by visits in 1989 and 2006.
During her first state visit, which lasted three days, she was accompanied by Prince Philip and Anne, Princess Royal.
She had a packed itinerary, which included a visit to a Toa Payoh satellite town, witnessing a mock battle at SAFTI and taking in a Cantonese opera ("Madam White Snake").
She had a night stroll along Pagoda Street where then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew bought flowers from a stall for Her Majesty.
An orchid at the Botanic Gardens was also named after her.
In 1989, Elizabeth returned, again accompanied by Philip.
She visited Ang Mo Kio town centre, the National University of Singapore, and laid a wreath at the Kranji War Memorial in memory of the soldiers who died in World War 2.
Elizabeth's last trip was in 2006, accompanied by Philip, where she was treated to a colourful Lion Dance and visited the National Library. She also laid a wreath at the Cenotaph.
She also found time to visit the exact same Toa Payoh flat she had called on during her first visit in 1972.
In 2014, during Singapore's first ever state visit to the UK by then-President Tony Tan, Elizabeth read a speech commemorating the rich historical ties between the two countries.
"Our two nations enjoy a rich, shared history dating back to when Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore almost two centuries ago. How right he was when he said, “it would be difficult to name a place on the face of the earth with brighter prospects”.
His name lives on in Singapore through schools, hospitals and, of course, Raffles hotel, where Prince Philip and I stayed on our State Visit in 2006.
Then, as in our earlier visits, we received a warm welcome from the people of your country, as have other members of my family, most recently my grandson William and his wife. Your visit to the United Kingdom marks the continued deepening of the relationship between our countries."
Top image from Royal Family Facebook page and Getty Images.