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Host of the 'Royally Obsessed' podcast reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth II


World leaders continue to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. She died today at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. She was 96 years old and held the throne for 70 of those years, making her the longest serving monarch of the United Kingdom. Her death comes as the country's government is already in a time of transition. Here is the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaking this evening.


PRIME MINISTER LIZ TRUSS: Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign.

CHANG: Let's bring in now Roberta Fiorito, co-author of "Royal Trivia: Your Guide To The Modern British Royal Family." And she is also co-host of the "Royally Obsessed" podcast. Welcome.

ROBERTA FIORITO: Thank you so much for having me.


Well, thank you for being with us. OK, so for audience who may not be as royally obsessed as you are, how would you characterize the queen's legacy in this particular moment?

FIORITO: Well, I mean, she has reigned for 70 years. She became queen in 1952. And so her legacy is long. And she, you know, ascended the throne in post-World War II Britain. But as soon as she did, the trials and tribulations came fast for the young queen. There was the Aberfan Mining Disaster. Her uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was assassinated by the IRA. So she has definitely lived through a number of trials. And then that's not even getting to behind closed doors in the House of Windsor.

CHANG: Yeah. Well, let's talk about that. I mean, what specific moments from her reign stand out to you as maybe the most defining or some of the most defining?

FIORITO: I mean, I think we all know some of the most defining ones. There's, of course, Princess Diana and that kind of Shakespearean tragedy. There was also, you know, Harry and Meghan in most recent years and moving a continent away from the queen. That's her grandson, obviously. And so - but I think one of the most defining things, and one that we as royal watchers don't want to ever forget, is her humor and her wittiness. I think that that has always kind of stood out to us. You know, there was the opening ceremony of the London Olympics where she - and of course, it wasn't her. It was an actress or an actor - jumped out of a helicopter...

CHANG: (Laughter) I remember this.

FIORITO: ...With a skit with Daniel Craig. Yes. With James Bond...

CHANG: With the Corgis.

FIORITO: ...Oh, iconic (laughter). Iconic, yeah. And then the Paddington Bear skit for the Platinum Jubilee this year, which celebrated her 70 years on the throne. She pulled out a marmalade sandwich from her purse. So there are those little things that I think we all want to kind of remember, aside from her, you know, amazing, incredible legacy, that she was human and that she had an incredible sense of humor.

CHANG: And she doesn't get a lot of credit for that. Well, let's get into how the succession is going to unfold, because I want to talk about King Charles, as we will call him now. What is this transition going to be like for him? I mean, he's been waiting so long for this moment. What does his ascendancy mean for the future of the monarchy, you think?

FIORITO: It's quite odd, isn't it, calling him King Charles...

CHANG: It is.

FIORITO: ...King Charles III is, of course, yeah, the name that he went with, King Charles III. And it is weird to say long live the king now. But his legacy is interesting. I think a lot of us are optimistic about it and curious about what the future holds. You know, we don't know what it'll be like to have a king on the throne. But it does have the potential to be very modern. And...

CHANG: What do you mean by that? Yeah, go ahead.

FIORITO: ...When I say that, I mean forward thinking, you know, his environmentalism. He has said that he wants to open up the palaces to tourism. He's very modern when it comes to the royal family, I think, in comparison to his mother. And as we know, he's been waiting for this moment for so long. So we know preparations are well underway. I mean, Operation London Bridge is what happens now, which is after the queen passes this slew of processes start to take place, and then concurrently with that, Operation Spring Tide, which is the plan for Charles's ascension. So while we know he won't be, you know, crowned in the next few months probably, it'll probably be more closer to a year, definitely preparations are underway for her funeral and what happens next for Charles.

CHANG: Well, what can we expect next, ceremony wise, as the country marks the queen's death?

FIORITO: Right. So the queen will - her body will travel by train from Balmoral to Buckingham Palace. It will then lie in state in Westminster Abbey for three days. And then the funeral will take place on the 10th day. And so that - there is so much still unfolding. And so we'll just have to wait and see. But that's what's next is her funeral. And, of course, the country will be in mourning for the next 10 days.

CHANG: That is Roberta Fiorito, co-host of the "Royally Obsessed" podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today.

FIORITO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.
Ashley Brown is a senior editor for All Things Considered.