In the seven decades of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, there were 14 U.S. presidents – all men. So for many American women peering across the pond at goings-on in the U.K., the monarch was not merely a figurehead or a source of royal gossip and intrigue, but she also represented a break from rule by patriarchy. Or as Boston University’s royal historian Arianne Chernock writes, “there was something deliciously disruptive about Elizabeth II’s reign.” It is why many American women traveled to London in 1953 for Elizabeth’s coronation, and why some of their daughters and granddaughters will be among those mourning her loss today.

Elizabeth was disruptive in other ways, too. During her tenure, the royal family engaged more with the public, putting their human side on display. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, with rumors, disputes and resentments becoming tabloid fodder. But as Sean Lang of Anglia Ruskin University in the U.K. notes, the monarchy survived by “changing its outward appearance without changing its public role” – so much so that by the end of Elizabeth’s life, all but the most ardent anti-royalists had given up demands for the abolition of the monarchy and embraced the queen’s popularity.

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Matt Williams

Senior Breaking News and International Editor

Queen Elizabeth II during a 1983 tour of California. George Rose/Getty Images

In 1953, ‘Queen-crazy’ American women looked to Elizabeth II as a source of inspiration – that sentiment never faded

Arianne Chernock, Boston University

In 1953, ‘Queen-crazy’ Americans traveled to the U.K. to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Their daughters and granddaughters will be among those mourning the monarch’s death.

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