Those with ties to Britain, including some from Billings, mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
For many queens who have reigned for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch they have ever known. She died Thursday at the age of 96, wearing the crown since 1953.
She led the monarchy through decades of social change, while remaining a symbol of national stability and a beloved figure in a changing world.
“My mom was the first person to show up on our family group chat,” said Rocky Mountain College student-athlete Ethan McGuire. “No way, the queen just passed.”
McGuire is from Bolton, England. He is a sophomore at Rocky and plays on the boys’ soccer team.
“She was like everybody’s leader, and everybody looked up to her,” McGuire said. “Buckingham Palace is like the biggest place she lives in, if you go to London.”
Bradley Lowes lives in Hexham, England.
“It’s a very surreal historical moment for us in the UK,” said Low, a former student-athlete at MSU Billings, who recently moved after graduating last spring.
For the past two years, Lowe’s has called Magic City home, attending MSU Billings College and playing on the men’s soccer team.
“It’s a very sad day for the UK,” Lowes said. “Obviously we are saying goodbye to the longest reigning monarch in British history. Always a great servant of our country. She has stood the test of time, regardless of politics, has always managed problems with great grace and more.
Lowes and McGuire say the whole country feels lost. Public exhibits have popped up in small towns across the country. It’s harder for some older British citizens, they say.
“In fact, my parents were even more shocked,” Lowe said. “I think they feel it more because they’ve reached that age. They know no one but the Queen and set an example for all of us to serve our country.
“My grandparents worked really hard because some of them were there when she was first named,” McGuire said. “Now they’re holding on until the end and that’s very important to them.
Now they are waiting for the queen’s son, Prince Charles, to become king.
“Having a king instead of a queen makes a difference,” McGuire said.
“God bless the king,” Ross said.