The U.K. flag is fluttering at half-mast at Buckingham Palace after Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, died on Thursday at age 96.
Although, during her reign, the enormous British Empire shrank – the 96-year-old British monarch’s popularity remained overwhelming throughout her 70 years on the throne. The U.K.’s figurehead for seven decades also witnessed some of the most significant events in modern history.
From seeing Winston Churchill to Liz Truss in Britain’s top office to the dissolution of the Josef Stalin-led Soviet Union and the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S.– she was a witness to many of the major events that shaped the world in the past century.
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Here Are Some Of The Key Historical Events In Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-Year Reign:
The Queen And Her 15 Prime Ministers: Under the queen’s reign, a total of 15 British prime ministers served the country. Her first was Winston Churchill, who held the office from 1951 until 1955 (he was previously prime minister from 1940 to 1945), and the last was Liz Truss, who was appointed just three days before the queen’s death.
Queen Met 13 Out Of The Last 14 Sitting U.S. Presidents: Over the course of her 70-year-reign, Elizabeth has met 13 out of the last 14 U.S. presidents, except for Lyndon B Johnson. Her first meeting with Harry S. Truman was in 1951, and she last met President Joe Biden in 2021.
1966- China’s Cultural Revolution: In 1966, the Communist leader Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, which lasted until he died in 1976 and impacted the country for decades. Even the CCP has declared and acknowledged that the Cultural Revolution was wrong.
1969 Man Lands on Moon: In 1969, the Queen celebrated the world’s first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon. She welcomed astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to her official residence, Buckingham Palace, after the successful Apollo 11 mission to the Moon.
1975 End of the Vietnam War: She also witnessed the fall of Saigon, which marked the end of the Vietnam War after nearly 20 years of conflict. The war is estimated to have killed nearly 3 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.
1986 Chernobyl Disaster: The Chernobyl disaster took place in northern Ukraine as the queen turned 60 years old. The catastrophic disaster happened after a reactor at a nuclear plant exploded and burned. It was the worst nuclear disaster in history.
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1991 Dissolution Of The Soviet Union: The queen also witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1994, she became the first ruling British monarch to set foot on Russian soil while making a state visit at the invitation of then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
2001 Terror Attacks in The U.S.: After a series of terror attacks in the U.S. on the World Trade Centers in 2001, the queen sent a special message to Americans living in Britain. She also ordered the military bands to play the American national anthem during the Changing of Guard ceremony outside her palace. Later, she also attended a memorial at St. Paul Cathedral for those killed and injured in the attacks.
2016 E.U. Referendum And Brexit: In 2016, the U.K. became the first and only sovereign country to have left the E.U. after 47 long years of commitment. Elizabeth, who was the monarch and head of state, witnessed 52% of Brits voting to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016, after the E.U. referendum and the country finally exiting the bloc in 2020.
2020 Covid-19 Pandemic: In her 70-year reign, the queen broadcasted about 5 messages during some of the crucial events. Her last message came during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when the queen addressed the people of Britain affected by the contagious virus that claimed the lives of about 6 million people worldwide.
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