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  • Writer's pictureGraham Rawlings

Floral Tribute, by Simon Armitage

The British Poet Laureate pays homage to "a promise made and kept for life."

Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled the United Kingdom for seven decades, was perceived by many as an institution that it's easy to forget she wasn't supposed to have become Queen.

Born in 1926, Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of King George V's second son. She had no real expectation of succeeding to the throne until her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 to marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. After her father's death, King George VI, 25-year-old Elizabeth, was immediately, by default, to assume the throne, beginning a momentous reign. In February 2022, the United Kingdom staged a series of celebrations for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee—marking 70 years of her service to the British Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II, who died at age 96, proved consistent and enduring. In April 2021, she lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Phillip, when he died at age 99. In February 2022, the Queen contracted the coronavirus, which she later said left her "very tired and exhausted." She installed her 15th prime minister. Liz Truss, just two days before her death.

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