A woman has died. A woman who led an extraordinary life.
Elizabeth Windsor held an exalted position and enjoyed riches of which most people can only dream. She saw more of the world, and met more of its inhabitants, than any other woman in history.
This was no Princess Diana, killed in her prime, leaving two young children. Elizabeth Windsor lived for nearly a century. Her children are themselves elderly. Even her grandchildren are middle-aged. The longest-reigning monarch in British history, she was seen by many as all but immortal. And her behavior encouraged this attitude. Ordinary mortals stop working in old age. But she didn’t. She was still working two days before she died. Her last action as Queen was to appoint the U.K.’s new prime minister.
But she was nevertheless a woman, a human being. And all humans, however exalted, come at last to an end. Death is the great leveller.
Her death should have surprised no one. She had been visibly failing since her husband died in April 2021. But for British people, her death feels like the end of an era. She ascended the throne long before most of us were born. She has been a constant presence throughout our lives. The outpouring of grief in the British media is not about the inevitable death of a very old, and at the end very lonely, woman: Such grief would surely be tempered by the sense that for her, death may well have come as a blessed release. No, it is about the passing of a generation, a way of life and,…