When Queen Elizabeth took the throne at the tender age of 25, the sun was only just beginning to set on the British Empire.
Now, as she is laid to rest, the monarchy’s dominion is less vast and the allegiance of her subjects more voluntary — but it is still globe-spanning. At her death, Queen Elizabeth was the head of state in 15 countries and the ceremonial head of the much wider Commonwealth, presiding over 2.5 billion people from Canada to Australia, Jamaica to Ghana, Pakistan to Fiji.
But as her septuagenarian son King Charles III takes over, the prospects for holding together this vast realm look grim.
The colonies over which the House of Windsor once ruled are now the Commonwealth, a loose collection of 56 member states that occasionally benefit from the British state. But many are restless, and the loyalty and respect that their governments pledged toward Elizabeth will be tested by a new monarch who is more political and less regal.