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Queen Elizabeth II remembered by local residents

Guardsman marching down the Mall London England on The Queens Birthday Parade Trooping the Colour,Saturday 13th June 2015
Carnegie42/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Guardsman marching down the Mall London England on The Queens Birthday Parade Trooping the Colour, Saturday 13th June 2015

Queen Elizabeth the II is the only monarch Valerie Whyman, a Williamsport resident and native of Northamptonshire, England, has ever known.

“I know she was 96 years old, but all the same, she's been a permanent fixture in so many lives for … people's entire life,” Whyman said. “I was very surprised.”

Queen Elizabeth the II died last week 70 years on the throne. She was the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch.

Whyman met Queen Elizabeth II, along with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in 1980. Her orchestra was performing for a celebration at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and she was part of a small group that had the chance to meet the royals and speak with them.

“The Queen was interested, very interested in talking to everybody, and Charles and Diana too,” she said. “It was something I will never forget.”

Whyman still has family in Leicestershire. She expects much of the country to be in a somber mood following the queen’s passing.

She thinks of the monarchy and royal family as “vital” part of British history and culture.

Prince Charles was proclaimed King Charles III as of Saturday, Sept. 10. He is the oldest person to take the British throne.

But with a new prime minister and economic hardship throughout the country, Wilkes University Associate Professor of History Jonathan Kiuken says the passing of Queen Elizabeth II will only add to the turmoil in Great Britain.

“I think it’s going to add to this overarching sense of instability,” he said. “I don’t think crisis is too strong a word.”

King Charles III has already drawn scrutiny from the British public, as Kiuken predicted. The Associated Press reports the new monarch has already received negative press from videos of him irritated by a leaky pen and pen holder and reports that up to 100 people on staff at his former residence may lose their jobs.

“I don’t think he [King Charles III] commands the level of respect that the Queen did,” Kiuken said. “He will have a very tough job of taking the place of that national unifier… the Queen did such a good job of playing that role.”

As of Wednesday, the queen is lying in state at Westminster Hall after leaving Buckingham Palace in a procession. Her funeral is set for Monday, Sept. 19.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of All Things Considered on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.