Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years. The 96-year-old British monarch had witnessed some big events in modern history from the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy to the death of Princess Diana, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
News18 looks back at the historic events that took place during her 70-year reign:
1953 Coronation: After the death of her father King George VI while she was on a royal tour to Kenya, she was made the queen on February 6, 1952. However, she was not officially crowned the queen for a year.
1963 Assassination of John F Kennedy: The queen invited John F Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline at Buckhingham Palace in June 1961 for a semi-formal dinner. When Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, the queen sent her condolences to Jacqueline, and in 1965, she invited the First Lady to Britain for the unveiling of her husband’s memorial in Runnymede in Berkshire.
1966 Aberfan Disaster: Britain witnessed the worst mining-related disaster on October 21, 1966 in Aberfan village in South Wales. Heavy rain caused a landslide that killed 116 children and 28 adults. The queen initially refused calls to visit the village as she thought the attention would affect rescue efforts. Nearly eight days after the tragedy, she visited the village and met the families of the deceased.
1969 Man Lands on Moon: The queen sent a message to the team, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, after Apollo 11 successfully landed a man on moon for the first time on July 20, 1969. She said: “On behalf of the British people, I salute the skill and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavour increase the knowledge and wellbeing of mankind.”
1977 Silver Jubilee: The queen celebrated her 25 years on the throne, with street parties, thanksgiving services, river procession and a trip in the Gold State Coach organised as part of the festivities.
1979 Margaret Thatcher as PM: The queen witnessed Thatcher become the first female prime minister of Britain in 1979, and worked with her for 11 years until Thatcher’s resignation in 1990.
1981 Charles and Diana’s Wedding: Nearly 750 people watched Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding, which took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981.
1986 Chernobyl Disaster: The disaster took place in northern Ukraine, formerly known as USSR, after a reactor at a nuclear plant exploded and burned. It was the worst nuclear disaster in the history.
1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany was dismantled by protestors on November 9, 1989. The fall signified the dissolution of the Soviet Union and iron curtain.
1997 Diana’s Death: Princess Diana died in Paris on August 31, 1997 after her car was being chased by paparazzi and the drunk driver on the wheel. The queen initially wanted the news to be kept away from her grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who were staying at Scottish Retreat. Five days after Diana’s death, the queen went to London and made a speech before the funeral.
2001 Terror Attacks in US: After the terror attacks on the World Trade Centers in the US on September 11, 2001, the queen sent special message to the Americans living in Britain, and those who had been affected by the event. For the first time, she ordered military bands outside Buckingham Palace to play American national anthem during the Changing of Guard. Later, she went to attend a memorial at St Paul Cathedral’s for those killed and injured in the attacks.
2002 Gold Jubilee: Even though the queen celebrated her 50 years on the throne in 2002, the same year in February, her only sister Princess Margaret died battling a long illness. A month later, her mother passed away.
2012 London Olympics: The queen’s Diamond Jubilee coincided with London Olympics in 2012 with her video being played at the opening ceremony with co-star James Bond.
2016 Brexit: The queen witnessed 52% of Brits voting to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016 after the EU Referendum, popularly known as Brexit.
2020 Covid-19 Pandemic: The queen broadcast her message to the Brits during the Covid-19 lockdowns. This was her fifth message during her 70-year reign. Her other key broadcasts have been during the Gulf War and the death of Princess Diana.
2021 Prince Philip’s Death: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the queen had to sit alone at her husband Prince Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel on April 17, 2021.