Beloved monarch captivated world with her smile during 70-year reign

Queen Elizabeth II captivated not only the British people but also many others around the world with her gentle smile, and was widely beloved. Her achievement of preserving the trust and traditions of the royal family during her 70-year reign, the longest in British history, is significant.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has died. We offer our sincere condolences. Upon the death of the queen, her eldest son ascended to the throne as King Charles III.

The path taken by the queen is modern history itself. During her reign, there were 15 British prime ministers, from World War II hero Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, who took office on Tuesday.

The queen built bridges of British friendship with more than 110 countries. The sad news seems to mark a curtain falling on an era.

Well before her ascension, the queen said in a 1947 speech, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” She was known for having promised the people that she would fulfill her duties as long as she lived once she became queen.

True to her word, the queen performed her official duties until two days before she died. She deserves respect for her firm determination to live up to the public trust in the royal family.

The queen earned the deep trust of the British people chiefly because she tried to narrow the gap with them while protecting traditions.

The queen opened Buckingham Palace in London to the public from the 1990s. At the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, she surprised the world by performing a skit with an actor who played the protagonist in the 007 film series.

In June this year, amid jubilee celebrations marking her 70 years on the throne, a video was released in which the queen had tea at the palace with Paddington Bear, the main character in a popular series of children’s stories.

Such a friendly approach may have had an impact on other royal families by projecting a new image of a monarch.

Nevertheless, the queen and her royal family members also experienced discord with the people at times.

Over the tragic death of Princess Diana, the queen was slow in offering her condolences. That drew criticism for her seeming coldness. She also saw the royal family often hit by headline-making scandals and calls for its abolishment.

Even then, her image as a calm queen must have helped ease public criticism of the royal family.

The queen also left her valuable mark on the relationship between Japan and Britain.

In 1998, when the then Emperor, now the Emperor Emeritus, visited Britain, anti-Japanese activities by some British people, such as former soldiers who had been captured by the Japanese military during World War II, intensified.

At a banquet to welcome the Emperor at Buckingham Palace, the queen said, “While the memories of that time [during the war] still cause pain today, they have also acted as a spur to reconciliation.” It is noteworthy that she led Japan and Britain to a new relationship of trust.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 10, 2022)