There are iconic figures … and then The Queen

It sounds so strange at this moment to actually realize that the world in which we live no longer includes Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The queen died today at 96. She had served for 70 years as head of state of the United Kingdom. Her eldest son, Charles, is now King Charles III.

It is going to require a bit of time to wrap my noodle around this news. Elizabeth served as a towering figure — despite her dimunitive stature — for as long as I can remember. I am now 72, which means that I have known this world only in the context of Queen Elizabeth II.

Now she’s gone.

What no one has said in the immediate aftermath of the queen’s death is that the UK in the span of one week has seen a change in the head of government — with Liz Truss taking over from Boris Johnson as prime minister — and now a change in the head of state.

Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed a standing few world leaders ever achieve, which appeared — at least to me — to be of universal admiration. As I look back on her many decades as the UK’s monarch, I am trying to recall a single derogatory remark uttered in public against her. I keep coming up empty.

King Charles won’t enjoy that standing, given his own personal history. But if the Brits can embrace him, who among the rest of us is qualified to pass judgment?

Talk about the end of an era.