The Death of the Queen: Student Reactions
On the eighth of September, the world was shaken by four simple words: Queen Elizabeth has passed. Dying quietly in her sleep, she was 96 years-old and the longest reigning monarch at 70 ruling years.
But though her passing was quiet, the response was anything but subdued. All around the world, people were thrown into a frenzy, initial shock and disbelief giving way to a more complex analysis about her character throughout her reign. Ultimately, the general population serves as the jury for history; a famous individual’s legacy ultimately comes down to the perception of their actions more so than actions themselves. How one is remembered is therefore dependent on how one is perceived by the masses, and how the Queen should be framed is as divisive an issue at Edgemont as it is anywhere else.
Despite the monarchy being technically apolitical, to be purely apolitical in a world enshrouded in politics constitutes a formidable task for anyone, let alone professional historians. Some Edgemont students point to potential cracks in her legacy. “I think it’s multifaceted,” says senior Ava Min. Ava elaborated, “She was a symbol of stability but also committed several horrible social crimes. And she lived a long life so I think she deserves approximately a week of mourning and then we should kill off the monarchy. Because imagine how much money they blew on her funeral; it could probably feed 10,000 starving families for a week.” The Queen’s glamor is a part of what made her inspirational, but that glamor also creates discussion of the money itself, where it came from, and what it symbolizes.
Hearkening back to Great Britain’s legacy of colonialism, junior Sanjana Kathik says, “To be quite honest, I kind of expected her to live a little bit longer. But as an Indian American, she definitely wasn’t the best person. And I want the jewels back.” The jewels in question refer back to the jewels in British museums that have been stolen from various countries it has colonized during the time of her reign.
"The monarchy is also a symbol of hope for a lot of people and gives a leader for many people, because people need a leader despite how much they say they don’t. But either way, us Americans have no business telling the Brit’s what to do with their government.”
However, there are also others that view her as a symbol of stability and even unity. As a source who wished to remain anonymous put it, “I think that it’s a shame, for her entire life she was a symbol of world peace and prosperity. She reigned over Britain very well and she kept things as stable as possible in Europe without ever expressing her political opinions. And despite some people saying the royalty should be abolished for being a waste of money, I think that it should be kept, because it has always existed and for many people, the queen is a big morale booster… I hope that the monarchy does stay because it is a very traditional system and has worked very well for the past.. The monarchy is also a symbol of hope for a lot of people and gives a leader for many people, because people need a leader despite how much they say they don’t. But either way, us Americans have no business telling the Brit’s what to do with their government.”
Regardless of whether you mourn or celebrate the queen’s death, there is no side of this spectrum that didn’t feel a collective shock from the news. With her passing comes the potential collapse of everything she represents. As several of the quoted Edgemont students alluded to, this passing brings discussion of not just the Queen, but the future of the monarchy as a whole.
“I really don’t know, I think it’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the impact that someone had after ruling for 75 years,” says junior Sara Vasudev. “...that’ll never happen again in our lifetime.”
“It’s crazy more than anything,” said one Edgemont teacher. “It’s hard to wrap your head around, when she was such a powerful figure. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after this.” What happens after this is the golden question, as calls for the abolishment of the monarchy, which anti-monarchists argue forces people to pay taxes to an imperialist power structure, have been ringing louder. Meanwhile, pro-monarchists plant their feet firmly on the foundation that the monarchy provides, a universal center for joy and stability.
More than anything, this controversy seems to be indicative of just how long and influential her reign was. Whether you chant “Lizzy’s in the box” or sing “God Save the Queen,” there is no denying her impact.