Queen Elizabeth leaves a legacy of culture, stability

Queen Elizabeth in 2015.

Queen Elizabeth II’s service as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch meant a lot to her subjects around the world, and she came along at the right time in history.

That’s according to UCSB history professor Erika Rappaport, who noted the queen’s longevity brought a sense of stability to Britain, especially during crises. Her Majesty served as queen from 1952 to her death on Thursday.

“Ironically, this sense of stability occurred during a time when the state and population of Britain changed dramatically,” Dr. Rappaport, who has taught classes about 19th- and 20th-century Britain, told the News-Press in an email. “During her reign, she oversaw the transition of the nation from a world empire to a European state; and, now since Brexit, its future is still unclear.”

Elizabeth became the queen in 1952 at age 25.

“It is important to remember that she was the head of state for many, but not all nations, in the Commonwealth, so people around the world will be mourning her passing,” Dr. Rappaport said. “Theoretically, the monarchy is a glue that holds this loose body together, but as I noted several Commonwealth nations, such as India, have become republics.”

“When she came to the throne, she was praised for being a young, innocent princess who would restore Britain’s global power and inaugurate a new ‘Elizabethan’ age,” Dr. Rappaport told the News-Press. “That didn’t happen, of course, but she ensured that many around the world would learn about and appreciate British culture since that time.”

The professor also noted that as a much-beloved monarch, the queen benefitted Britain’s tourist industry and economy.

She added that Americans can learn from the example set by the queen and her family. “Well, many Americans might well emulate the royal family’s humanitarianism and its respect for history and tradition.”

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In 1983, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip joined President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan during a visit to Santa Barbara, which included the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, the Santa Barbara Mission and the Reagans’ ranch northwest of Santa Barbara, Rancho del Cielo.

The Reagan Library in Simi Valley created a virtual exhibit about Queen Elizabeth’s visit, which can be viewed at www.reaganlibrary.gov/virtual-exhibits/reagan-queen-elizabeth-II.

For more about the Rancho del Cielo, see reaganranch.yaf.org.

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