Queen Elizabeth II died on Sep. 8 after serving as England’s reigning monarch for 70 years. After her father, King George VI, passed in 1952, the then-25-year-old Elizabeth became the first female leader of the British Empire since Queen Victoria.
Her path to the throne was different from the monarchs who preceded her. Her uncle, King Edward VIII, took the throne in 1936, but abdicated later that year due to his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Since 1953, Queen Elizabeth met with 14 American presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to current president and former vice president Joe Biden. In 1991, she became the first British monarch to address Congress.
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth brought technological advances to traditions of the monarchy. She was the first to have her coronation televised and also broadcasted her Christmas speeches from the palace.
In her first Christmas address she famously said, “I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct. It’s inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you, a successor to the kings and queens of history, someone whose face may be familiar in newspapers and films but who never really touches your personal lives. But now, at least for a few minutes, I welcome you to the peace of my own home.”
Modernizing the monarchy was a large part of the work Queen Elizabeth did while on the throne. Most notably in 2013 the Succession to the Crown Act was passed, which allowed first born women to take the crown instead of younger male siblings.
This past year, England celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in honor of her 70 years on the throne; the longest reign of any monarch in British history. The celebration honored British excellence, with guest appearances from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Formula 1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton, and Queen + Adam Lambert.
England and the world will mourn the loss of such a grand figure in history.