Students React to Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

Queen Elizabeth II’s Legacy is Dividing Students Following Her Death


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Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted on British postal stamps and currency since her early adulthood.

Kate Stout, Editor-in-Chief

Queen Elizabeth II is leaving behind a long historical legacy following her death. Reactions to her death and legacy are dividing people of different ages and nationalities.

She had ruled over the United Kingdom and other commonwealth realms for seventy years and was 96 years old when she died. Throughout her life she experienced many historical events, although her role as queen was largely ceremonial for much of it.

“I was in lunch, and I heard someone shout, ‘Holy crap, she’s dead!’ And then I heard a couple other people say (it), and then I looked it up and I saw that – oh crap – the queen is dead. It was posted like two minutes ago,” Junior Jesse Borrero said. “Then I kind of laugh a little bit, I’ll be honest. Then I saw all over TikTok. So I was like, huh, she’s finally dead.”

Borrero’s description of the moment that he heard the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death is representative of many other students’ experiences too. Although there had been rumors of her declining health for some time, the news still spread quickly from student to student.

“It’s kind of treated as, like, a celebrity death, where you have a lot of people that are talking about it, but more of just that it happened, not with a lot of context about what it means or anything like that,” World history teacher Mr. Steven Johnson said.

The mixed, but often not overly solemn, reactions of students are for a great number of reasons. However, Mr. Johnson found that for the younger generation their treatment of Queen Elizabeth II’s death often comes from their view of her legacy and her country’s legacy.

“So you will have a lot of people of the older generation that do see this as a very momentous occasion,” Mr. Johnson said. “As far as the younger generation, particularly people that are looking at, you know, some of the more negative things that has resulted of the British Empire, a lot of the imperialistic and colonial tendencies that happens that we’ve actually even been talking about in class, were a lot of the things that were perpetuated throughout the 20th century.”

“I’ve actually seen a lot of memes and jokes about the queen’s death. As of recently, a friend of mine actually sent me a meme yesterday, it was a reel on Instagram – it had said ‘the Queen trying to colonize hell’ and it showed the queen in a fire pit,”

— Junior Leandra Alicea

This reaction, for some students, results in a general sense of apathy regarding Queen Elizabeth II as a person and for the British monarchy. Even for those that do not take issue with her political and historical legacy, changing values and detachment from British politics means many American teens are not reacting significantly to this death.

“Personally, I think she’s overrated. Like, she’s just been sitting around for a while,” Borrero said. “I don’t know, really. I don’t really know what she’s done. All these people over the pond with their fancy words. They’re such a big fan of some random old lady that is like, I don’t get it. Like, what’s the big deal?”

As seen on many social media platforms, such as TikTok and on Instagram, this apathy has translated into jokes and memes about Queen Elizabeth II’s death. These are then shared amongst teens, including Borrero, who has both sent and received jokes about Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

“I’ve actually seen a lot of memes and jokes about the queen’s death. As of recently, a friend of mine actually sent me a meme yesterday, it was a reel on Instagram – it had said ‘the Queen trying to colonize hell’ and it showed the queen in a fire pit,” Junior Leandra Alicea said.

Jokes such as these can be especially divisive for teens. To many students the perceived rudeness in memes or videos such as the one Alicea mentioned, does not exist and the content is merely humorous. Some students, including Alicea, take a more centrist viewpoint.

“They are definitely inappropriate, but I don’t see them as harmful, as long as there aren’t British people in the vicinity,” Alicea said.

Those that have a more sympathetic view towards the crown are more likely to be affronted by these videos. One such student is British immigrant and sophomore Nya Young, who said that social media’s reaction was “disrespectful”.

“Yeah, I think we’re all sad, doesn’t help us social media was a bit of a knobhead over that,” Young said. “But, I think we got over it. I’m just going to stay positive.”

Young’s perspective on Queen Elizabeth II and her death stems from her nationality, which created a closer connection between her and the monarchy.

“I was raised not around the Queen, but just around people who knew the Queen, one of my best friends, she was actually (a) royal guard for the queen,” Young shared. “So she had a lot of instances that she met the Queen. The Queen also did visit my school on a few occasions and I did a lot of reports on her, so she’s very close.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee was celebrated all over England, such as in the town of Aylesbury. (Edward Stout )

The result of this increased closeness was a heightened sense of loss in the moment after the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death made its way to students. For most British people, the rule of Elizabeth II was the only one they had even known.

“I was in my English class and I was just looking down and it just hurt,” Young shared. “Because, you know, for things like that you want to be home and you just suddenly feel lonely.”

Overall, the death of Queen Elizabeth II was met with mixed reactions. Although she was such a prominent figure for such a long time, her political power – especially towards the end of her life – was minimal. Her death may have strong social implications, but for many teens in the United States it was not an exceptionally sad occasion.

“When you’re talking about the depth of the death of a very prominent political figure, their deeds and their actions are kind of put under a microscope,” Mr. Johnson explained. “And unfortunately, at least from what I’ve seen, people are definitely focusing more on the bad deeds than the good things, because generally speaking, I think it’s easier to point to the monarchy having direct negative influences.”