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9th September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II obituary

Queen Elizabeth II opened the University of Manchester in 2004. Following her death, we look back at her life and impact on the city of Manchester
Queen Elizabeth II obituary
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Photo: Sergeant Adrian Harlen, Crown Copyright 2013, MoD news license @ Flickr

Her Majesty Elizabeth II, the longest serving Monarch in British history, has died aged 96. 

A statement released by Buckingham Palace yesterday (September 8  2022), at approximately 6.30pm, stated: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

The Queen’s death follows a series of reports and concerns about her declining health. At approximately midday on September 8, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying: “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

The Queen had last been seen by the public during her meetings on Wednesday with the incoming and outgoing Prime Minister’s, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, respectively. Her Majesty received the two PMs at her summer residence in Balmoral, Scotland, in a marked departure from the established tradition of receiving incoming and outgoing Prime Ministers at Buckingham Palace. 

Health concerns were first raised on Tuesday when she did not attend a virtual privy council meeting on the orders of her doctors. 

The University of Manchester released a statement offering “condolences to the Royal Family” and saying “we join them in mourning, but also thanksgiving, for the Queen’s exemplary and extraordinary life of public service.”

“As a mark of respect, the national flags on University buildings will be flown at half-mast for ten days of national mourning.”

The Queen last visited the University of Manchester in October 2004, when she personally granted the University a Royal Charter to mark the merger of the Victoria University of Manchester, and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. 

A report by the University documents her address to the gathering. She is reported to have reflected on her many previous visits to the university, and stated that “the creation of the new University represents a bold and imaginative response to the challenges facing higher education. In creating this new institution, you are building on a rich academic heritage and a fine tradition of excellence in both teaching and research”.

Her Majesty proceeded to meet a range of students from the University, who reported that she was eager and “very interested” to hear about their work, and upon her departure, was met by crowds of waving and clapping fans.

The news of the Queen’s death has been met with a wave of tributes from across the UK. In a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday night, Prime Minister Liz Truss said “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built” and “through thick and thin [she] … provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.”

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, paid tribute to the late monarch. A statement attributed to the Mayor’s by Greater Manchester Combined Authority stated : “On behalf of everyone in Greater Manchester, I wish to convey our deepest sympathies to the Royal Family following the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.”

“Queen Elizabeth II has been an ever-present in our lives. Our sense of loss is profound because she gave us all so much. As the longest reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom, she gave our communities and our country the greatest possible service and guidance. For that, and for her exceptional life, we give thanks.”

He was joined by Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes in his statement of condolences, who added “As the longest-serving female Head of State in world history, the Queen worked alongside 15 Prime Ministers and was a source of inspiration to many women working in the public sphere.”

“Her dedication to and support for charitable causes has also benefited so many of our citizens. Her Majesty acted as patron to over 600 organisations and charities – helping to raise hundreds and thousands of pounds during her reign.”

“Our city-region mourns the passing of Her Majesty, while her legacy and achievements will continue to be remembered and appreciated by people here across Greater Manchester far into the future.”

The Queen made many visits to Greater Manchester during her lifetime, most recently in July 2021 where she visited the set of long-running soap opera Coronation Street and the Manchester Cathedral, meeting with several representatives of support groups who provided care during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Elizabeth II came to the throne on February 6 1952, aged 25, following the death of her father, King George VI. Her reign bore witness to multiple history-making events, with her first Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1940-45, 1951-55) being born in 1874 whilst her final Liz Truss (2022-) – appointed only two days prior to her death – was born 101 years later in 1975.

Born two weeks before the 1926 General Strike, The Queen witnessed historic event after historic event throughout her lifetime. Her seven decades on the throne saw her appoint 15 Prime Ministers to lead the British Government whilst 13 U.S Presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Joe Biden, served their terms during her reign.

Throughout her reign The Queen navigated, mostly successfully, a multitude of political crises from the Suez Crisis to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, most recently, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst Her Majesty herself always remained extremely popular with the British public, often perceived as a stabilising and calming force on a nation increasingly racked with political crises and stark divisions, in recent years the institution of the monarchy has repeatedly been called into question. 

From the death of Princess Diana to the accusations of sexual assault levied at her son Prince Andrew, the very idea of a monarchy has become a polarising source of debate in British politics. Her reign’s twilight comes at a time when the role of Britain on the international stage – both contemporary and historically – is becoming increasingly controversial within public debate. Many will question the role and relevance of a monarch, the title associated with the British Empire and its legacy of conquest, plunder, and oppression for centuries, at a time when society’s ideals widely held upon Elizabeth’s ascension are markedly divergent to those held by the general public today.

All in all, history will be kind to Elizabeth II. Her reign observed a significant, but not always consistent, increase in living standards, education rates, and decreases in poverty across the UK and Commonwealth whilst Her Majesty herself was viewed with admiration and adoration by the British public all throughout her time on the throne. As the nation grapples with the loss of its figurehead, Elizabeth II’s reign will in no doubt be viewed as the ‘Great Elizabethan Age’ despite the uncertain future ahead for the institution Her Majesty dedicated her life to serving.

Jacob Hartley

Jacob Hartley

co-Managing Editor (News and Current Affairs)

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