News from RICE University

Rice historian, faculty member decorated at Buckingham Palace available to discuss Queen Elizabeth II

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Rice University historian Aysha Pollnitz is available to discuss the queen’s historic reign.

Meanwhile, David Alexander, the director of the Rice Space Institute and an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), is available to share his thoughts.

"Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch of Britain and the second-longest in world history, after Louis XIV of France,” Pollnitz said. “Her accession in 1952 was celebrated in Britain and the Commonwealth as the dawn a second Elizabethan Age.”

Pollnitz said while films, opera, television commentary and public events all drew comparisons between Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II, the latter presided over a very different nation over the course of her 70-plus-year reign. 
“Rather than initiating an empire, she celebrated the growth of a self-governing Commonwealth and reshaped the office of the monarch to adapt to a modern, decolonializing world,” Pollnitz said.

Pollnitz, an associate professor of history and co-director of Rice’s Politics, Law and Social Thought Program, is an intellectual historian of early modern Europe and, more recently, the Atlantic world. More information is available here.

Buckingham Palace

Alexander received his OBE honor in 2018.

“The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be a sad day for the nation and for many of the expats here in Houston and around the world,” Alexander said. “There are mixed feelings across the UK about the royal family but the queen has always been one for whom most of the country had a deep affection. She represented a bygone age but one that focused on service.  

“I was honored, and I have to say somewhat taken aback, when I was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the space industry in 2018, and it was a thrill to go to Buckingham Palace with my family, where I was presented with the medal by Prince Charles,” he continued. “I still remember the anguished search for an appropriate hat for the occasion as they insisted that any ladies attending should wear a hat.” 

To schedule an interview with Pollnitz or Alexander, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777.