On June 2, 1953, I was squeezed into a living room in Buckinghamshire, England, with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, in black and white, on a tiny square TV. I was only 6 years old that day, but can still remember exactly how I felt and where I was, right down to the tea in our commemorative coronation mugs.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, left, waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey, on June 2, 1953. Also waving are the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The queen died Thursday at the age of 96. Associated Press, File

Like so many British people of my generation, the queen has been a fixture in my life. Whether I was living in England, Germany, Switzerland or the USA, she was there, representing constancy in a world of astonishing change. Nevertheless, the emotions I felt at her passing were unexpected. I suppose it was a realization of such a big change and loss of someone’s presence in our lives. I think I felt initially what I felt when I lost my own parents. Emotions are often difficult to explain and justify.

Sitting in my living room streaming the events of her extraordinary life was simultaneously real and surreal. Connecting with some of her fellow subjects in Greater Portland, many made clear they were feeling the same. Her passing is more than the end of a historic reign.

It’s the loss of a connection to an era defined by a woman who exemplified tradition, duty, humility and respect. We will carry on with our new head of state, King Charles III, as he moves us and the monarchy into a new era. God save the king.

Jackie Dennis
Cape Elizabeth

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