How will the queen be remembered?


Alex Kendall

Illustration by

Daniel Passapera, Multimedia Editor

The year Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog made their first appearances on store shelves, the U.S. president was Dwight Eisenhower and Rick Astley hadn’t yet been born to “rick” his first “roll.”

On Sept. 8, at age 96, the queen died at her Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland, marking the end of a prominent and tumultuous seven-decade tenure on the throne.

“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of great sadness for me and all members of my family,” wrote King Charles III in a statement following the announcement of his mother’s death.

The queen represented stability within Britain as a monarch who adapted to various social changes in a modernizing world. She met with 13 U.S. presidents and worked alongside 15 British prime ministers during her tenure.

Christine Kinealy, professor of history at Quinnipiac University, said this adaptability is one of the reasons why the queen and the monarchy’s tradition still fascinates Britons and even Americans.

“I think she has, through a time of incredible change, been a unifying and stabilizing figure,” Kinealy said. “At the moment, in particular, the last few years have been such a period of change, turmoil, upset and uncertainty for people that this stability, this tradition, is almost like comfort food.”

Despite these achievements, the many faults and controversies of Elizabeth II’s tenure are hard to ignore and those downfalls came plenty.

Most recently, the controversies surrounding Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, a biracial American actress and wife to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, still looms.

Meghan, alongside Harry, accused the royal family of failing to defend her after multiple tabloid attacks and racist remarks on the appearance of their son Archie, in an interview with Oprah in 2021.

There were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan said in the interview.

Following the interview, Buckingham Palace released a four-line statement with one line reading “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.”

A year prior, in 2020, Meghan and Harry stepped down from royal duties and frequently spent time away from Britain up until recent visits, greeting mourners following the queen’s death.

This isn’t the first time members of the royal family stepped back or stopped their duties completely in an effort to protect their family unit.

In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne, effectively stepping down from his role as king to marry Wallis Simpson, an American woman who had been divorced twice. To this day, the royal family website, states that Simpson “would not have been acceptable as Queen” because of divorce, a frowned upon act within the monarchy.

Elizabeth II did however allow her son, Charles, who was Prince of Wales at the time, to marry a divorcee in Camilla Parker Bowles.

Charles himself was a divorcee, following a strained relationship with Princess Diana, who died in a car accident one year after their separation.

Diana was beloved and her popularity still remains true today. Despite reported rifts between her and the queen, Diana carried on in public life advocating for social issues and bringing a sense of normalcy to a posh family.

Illustration by (Amanda Riha)

The queen left behind not only family issues but a longstanding British era of colonization. Today, aside from Britain, 14 countries are under the control of the Commonwealth according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

This continued rule includes authority over Indigenous people and land predating oppression and atrocities committed throughout the queen’s rule.

“This is a monarchy that is associated with the British Empire, with centuries of oppression and who has never really apologized,” Kinealy said.

King Charles III will now take the reins after having prepared for this moment his entire life alongside Camilla, Queen consort.

Before his proper induction, the English tax-payers will cover funeral expenses for the queen, whose body will be transported between estates before being laid to rest next to her husband, Philip, who died last year.

Kinealy said given the magnitude of the remembrances, ceremonies and coronation that proceed, the royal family’s affluence will continue to separate them from the average person.

“I do think that they’re out of touch in a way, that even if they try to appear accessible, they’re not,” Kinealy said. “How can they be? They’ve been born to a life of privilege.”

Through the feats and faults, the symbolism that Queen Elizabeth II represented is completely dependent on which factors outweigh the others. If any indication, the reaction following the announcement of her death is the latter.