There were certain aspects of the job she didn’t fancy.
Take the heavy, bejeweled crown she wore at the end of her coronation and for most state openings of Parliament. She found it “unwieldy.”
“You can’t look down to read the speech ... because if you did, your neck would break,” she explained to the BBC in 2018. “There are some disadvantages to crowns.”
And riding in the gold state coach, drawn by eight horses for grand state occasions like coronations, royal weddings and jubilees? “Horrible. It’s not meant for traveling in at all. ... Not very comfortable.”
But Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at age 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, put up with it all just the same. She was Britain’s longest reigning monarch, ruling seven decades, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022. Though she could have passed her duties on to her son Prince Charles long ago, she honored the pledge of duty she made to the commonwealth on her 21st birthday in a now-famous radio speech: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”
The queen kept her promise to the end, welcoming the new prime minister, Liz Truss, to Balmoral Castle on the Tuesday before her death.
She had never expected to become queen, her fate turning on the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII, in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American socialite. With the premature death of her father, King George VI, at 56, she succeeded to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952. Princess Elizabeth was in Africa when he died, and became the first sovereign in more than 200 years to accede while out of the kingdom. She was 27 at her coronation, the first such event to be broadcast on television, on June 2, 1953.