Her full name was Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor. She was born as Princess Elizabeth of York to The Duke and Duchess of York, later to become King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. After King George died, her mother was known as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother to avoid confusion with her daughter, then Queen Elizabeth II.
Not being British, at least not in the past 246 years or so, the British tradition of names combined with titles that change is somewhat confusing to my American mind. Let’s just say I encourage you to read the Wikipedia article here.
Queen Elizabeth has been Queen of the United Kingdom and several Commonwealth realms longer than I’ve been alive. She ascended to the throne in February 1952 when her father, King George, died, pledging herself to the service of her country in a speech to Parliament.
A little-known fact about Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who was really quite remarkable, is that she was literally in a treehouse in Kenya when she was informed that her father had passed away unexpectedly, and consequently, she had become Queen.
She was staying at the Treetops Hotel at the foothills of Mount Kenya, in a treehouse built in the branches of a huge fig tree on a series of tall but quite spindly-looking stilts. Her husband, Prince Philip, learned of King George’s death from a reporter, before Elizabeth, and conveyed the sad news to the 26-year old woman who had no idea she was, at that very moment, already the Queen of England.
You can view the original treetop structure here.
Clearly, Elizabeth returned immediately to assume the mantle of public service she would humbly wear for the next 70 years.
Seventy years and seven months – the longest reigning monarch in British history and the longest-reigning female monarch in world history. Only one other monarch, ever, reigned longer than Queen Elizabeth – French King Louis XIV who ascended the throne at age four. Clearly, he wasn’t making decisions at that age. Her Majesty celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in June of this year. I’m glad that both she and the British people were able to experience that celebration together.
Her Majesty, the Queen, had recently been experiencing health challenges after having contracted Covid in late February this year, although there’s no evidence that was a factor in her death. She passed away at Balmoral Castle, her home in Scotland, on September 8th, 2022, at 96 years of age, after fulfilling duties just two days previously.
The Queen was greatly-loved, not only in England but also in much of the rest of the British Isles and Commonwealth countries. Many of the British subjects, and others, never met the Queen in person, but are grieving deeply. She was widely viewed as a lovely, kind, grandmotherly person.
Nature published an article explaining the science behind the outpouring of public grief. Let’s face it, Queen Elizabeth has been a constant in all of our lives for most all of our lives. While some of her family members have been embroiled in numerous scandals, she herself has been a unifying factor within the Royal family and also, for the most part, the rest of Great Britain too. She always offered hope and comfort.
The Queen brought four children into the world, and the monarchy has descended to her eldest son, Charles, now King Charles the third. While he is officially King, he has not been ceremonially crowned, as yet, and won’t be until several months after Queen Elizabeth has been laid to rest. No one feels like celebrating just yet.
If you’re interested in the royal line of succession, which also baffles me, there’s a good article here with a pedigree chart – something genealogists understand. The net-net of this is that Prince William is next in line, and then his eldest son, who is, of course, still a young child.
Cousin Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth, although I didn’t know it for a very long time, even after becoming a genealogist, was my 11th cousin, three times removed, 11C3R. Her great-grandchildren are my generation. We appear to also be related in other ways as well, but those are either unproven, and what I would consider speculative, or more distant.
If you’re rolling your eyes right about now, trust me, I was too. That’s part of why I discounted that tidbit for such a long time.
Several years ago, cousin Bill Nevils told me that we connected to the Royal Monarchy through the Muncy line. Bill was a remarkable, meticulous genealogist, as was James Muncy who also, independently, reached the same conclusion long before the days of quick copy and paste internet trees.
I’ve spent the past several years confirming my ancestors, one per week, in the 52 Ancestors Series (plus DNA when possible), and to date, I’ve worked my way through 6 and most of 7 of the 14 generations between me and Sir Andrew Windsor and his wife Elizabeth Blount who were married about 1490, my common ancestors with Queen Elizabeth,
I’m not terribly concerned about the accuracy of The Queen’s genealogy. Once one intersects with a Royal line, the genealogy has been scrutinized with a microscope by people with far more resources and money than I have at my disposal. I’m VERY grateful for that!
Queen Elizabeth, along with all of the other British Monarchy, are descended from William the Conqueror – along with an estimated 5 million other people. William the Conqueror is descended from Charlemagne, as is most if not all of the rest of Europe, including the British Isles, and the European diaspora.
So, one way or another, or more likely in many ways, if you have any European heritage at all, you too are probably related to the recently deceased Queen.
If you’re looking for what are known as “Gateway Ancestors” in the US, colonial immigrants, you can find a curated list of well-researched lines at WikiTree, along with the Magna Carta Project gateway ancestors here.
Our Connecting Lineage
The genealogy connecting Queen Elizabeth and me, which sounds very odd, I must admit, beginning with Sir Andrew Windsor and Elizabeth Blount is shown below. Beneath that, I’ll provide the WikiTree links and my ancestor stories, where they exist.
Twice I’ve been to London and in close proximity to the two Royal castles that grace central London. The Royal family is front and center everyplace in England, and the Royal flag indicates whether Her Majesty is in residence at the time, or not, in any specific location. I was stunned that everyone in London knew, without looking.
In 1970, as a student and long before I was interested in genealogy, I visited Buckingham Palace and watched the ceremonial changing of the guard.
My cousin, The Queen, would have been 44 and not even approaching her mid-life point yet. Of course, none of us knows at the time when that milestone occurs.
A few years ago, I stayed just a couple blocks away from Kensington Palace.
Here, I’m walking through Hyde Park on the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, with Kensington Palace in the background. I’m not at all sure I realized that until I saw this photo later that the Palace was back there. I wanted my picture with the marker in the walk. I was glad Diana hadn’t been forgotten and omitted altogether. I didn’t realize Diana had been my 12C2R by marriage, and her children, Princes William and Harry, are my 13C1R.
The palace gate was a block or so from my hotel, and across from the bus stop.
I wondered out loud to my husband if the black car exiting the Palace grounds might have been the Queen. I discounted it as even a possibility due to the lack of pomp and circumstance – then a local told me that no, the Royal Standard flag was not flying over the Castle, so she was not there. She was in Balmoral for a visit, I was informed, just matter of factly. Everyone felt an affection and kinship with the Queen, like a favorite family member.
It was just accepted that everyone knew where the Queen was, and what was going on with the Royals. As someone said to me, “She is ours, and we are hers.”
Here’s the Royal flag flying above Buckingham Palace.
Preparing to Lay the Queen to Rest
Queen Elizabeth will be laid to rest on Monday. Londoners are waiting for 24 hours now, in the cold, and the line stretches for many miles to leave flowers and pay their respects. These are no casual acts of reverence – but a deeply felt connection to the woman who served Great Britain as the only Monarch most have every known. Simply put, they love her.
King Charles, along with Elizabeth’s other children are standing ceremonial guard over their mother’s coffin as she lays in state in Westminster Hall, which is also Westminster Palace, the famous complex where the British Parliament meets, seen here from across the Thames River.
Queen Elizabeth’s four children, including the King, entering together in full dress military uniforms, standing vigil, each on one side of her coffin, was emotion-packed and exceedingly difficult to watch. Grieving is hard enough in private – but this is on full display to the world.
Today, however, was the most agonizing part for me – watching her grandchildren stand vigil. You can see Prince William’s lip quiver as he fights public tears as the world watches. I couldn’t even breathe when my mother died, let alone manage to grieve combined with upholding an exceedingly public Royal tradition, broadcast ’round the world. Nothing could ever prepare you for this.
My condolences to the entire Royal family and the British people as well. I hope their memories and great love sustain them.
The good news is that they had decades to make wonderful memories – and Queen Elizabeth was remarkably healthy right up to very near the end. The bad news is that everyone had so long to form those bonds that have been snapped. Great love equates to great grief – and these people, all of them, are clearly in mourning.
Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will take place Monday, September 19th in Westminster Abbey, the same location where she was crowned in 1953. She will be interred in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, beside Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years who died in 2021, and her parents. Her funeral service commences at 11 AM UK time and will be broadcast live on probably every news channel imaginable if you care to join me in watching what will assuredly be a memorial like no other. The doors open at 8 AM, so if you’re one of the dignitaries attending in person, don’t forget your invitation, and don’t be late! 😊
At 11:44 AM, sharp, the Queen’s coffin will be moved from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, an 8-minute trip, with King Charles III leading the Royal family as they walk behind, escorting their beloved mother and grandmother, a woman who just happened to also be their revered Queen, one last time.
The funeral service will be followed by two minutes of silence at noon. Details can be found here.
History is literally being made with the first funeral of a ruling British Monarch to be televised. I hope you’ll watch. After all, Queen Elizabeth is probably your cousin too.
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