UNCW professor, head coach react to Queen Elizabeth’s death

Even on our side of the pond, the Wilmington community is feeling the loss of the woman who "defined an era" at home, and abroad. 

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After the news of her death, the world has been mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth, who has been on the throne since 1952, died Thursday afternoon at 96 years old at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland.

Even on our side of the pond, the Wilmington community is feeling the loss of the woman who “defined an era” at home, and abroad.

Today, WWAY spoke with UNCW Professor of British and Irish History, Paul Townend, on how Queen Elizabeth II impacted the world as we know it today.

“There she was as a very young woman, in her early 20’s, a Queen. I think a lot of people thought, ‘Well, where is this going to go?’ But if you look back at the past 70 years, it has gone to some really wonderful places. She managed to change with the times, she managed to preserve dignity to be a center of gravity within the society for people to be proud of being British. She pulled that off wonderfully.” He continued, “I think it has left a legacy for the monarchy, and some tough shoes to fill too, for I guess now we have Charles III.”

Townend also reflected on his father, who was a British citizen, receiving a personalized telegram from the Queen herself when he approached his 60th wedding anniversary. This is a tradition that goes back to 1917.

“He really wanted that telegram. What that represented for him, was so important. He actually passed just right after that telegram arrived. I think it just says something about the connection between this Queen in particular and the British people.”

WWAY also caught up with UNCW Men’s Soccer Head Coach Aidan Heaney, who grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, or simply Newcastle, in England.

He noted that Queen Elizabeth II has been a part of his life since his birth.

“We never knew anything other than Queen Elizabeth II, it’s been a tremendously sad day. What an incredible monarch and figure head for a country. I remember the silver jubilee, when she had reigned for 25 years, and we had street parties. That was my childhood.”

He, and many others worldwide, look at Queen Elizabeth as an inspiration.

“What a tremendous life, I mean, I hope I last that long. She was doing things until the very end. Certainly, those times are going to come. But even though it’s just over, it’s very upsetting.”

Elizabeth, who has met more than a dozen American presidents, “was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement, saying she “defined an era.”

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