Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in Britain’s history who died on Thursday at the age of 96, ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom in 1952, embarking on a 70-year odyssey that ushered her nation into its postwar, post-imperial period.
No fewer than 15 British prime ministers were sworn in by the Queen, among them Sir Winston Churchill, who was born in 1874, and current incumbent Liz Truss, who was born in 1975. Her reign witnessed the twilight of the British Empire and its transformation into a Commonwealth alongside the development of a domestic welfare state. Married to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, from 1947 until his death last year, the Queen leaves four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
The Queen long enjoyed a close and productive relationship with Britain’s Jewish community. Hailed in 2016 on the occasion of her 90th birthday by the late British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks for having “enriched our lives” through the “respect she has she has shown for all religions,” the Queen served as a patron of several community organizations, including the Jewish Leadership Council, the Council of Christians and Jews and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust — the latter position gaining a special significance because of Philip’s wartime military service and the role of her mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Battenberg, in saving Greek Jews from the clutches of the Nazis.
Rabbi Sacks also recounted a 2005 meeting between the Queen and a group of Holocaust survivors at St. James’s Palace in London. “When the time came for her to leave, she stayed. And stayed,” Sacks recalled. “One of her attendants said that he had never known her to linger so long after her scheduled departure. She gave each survivor – it was a large group – her focused, unhurried attention. She stood with each until they had finished telling their personal story.”
Read More: Algemeiner