Queen Elizabeth 2, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died in Balmoral at the age of 96 after reigning for 70 years. She died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish estate, where she had spent much of the summer.
The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and saw huge social change.
Her son King Charles III said the death of his beloved mother was a “moment of great sadness” for him and his family and that her loss would be “deeply felt” around the world.
He said: “We deeply mourn the passing of a beloved sovereign and much-loved mother.
“I know his loss will be deeply felt by countless people across the country, the territories and the Commonwealth and around the world.”
During the ensuing mourning, he said he and his family would be “comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the esteem and deep affection in which the Queen was widely held”.
Buckingham Palace said the king and his wife, Camilla, who is now the queen’s aide-de-camp, will return to London on Friday. He is expected to address the nation on Friday.
Earlier in the day, senior members of the royal family gathered at Balmoral after the Queen’s doctors became concerned about her health.
All the Queen’s children traveled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision.
Her grandson and now heir to the throne Prince William and her brother Prince Harry were also present.
Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen on Tuesday, said the monarch was the rock on which modern Britain was built, “giving us the stability and strength we needed”.
Speaking about the new king, he said: “We offer him our loyalty and devotion, as his mother devoted so much, to so many, for so long.
“And with the passing of Elizabeth’s second term, we begin a new era in the glorious history of our great country, just as Her Majesty intended with the words ‘God Save the King’.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – the spiritual head of the Church of England of which the monarch is supreme governor – expressed his “deep sorrow”.
He said that his prayers are with the king and the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from the Empire to the Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and Britain’s entry into and withdrawal from the European Union.
His reign included 15 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, who was born in 1874, and including Ms Truss, who was born 101 years later in 1975.
She continued to hold weekly audiences with her prime minister throughout her reign.
At London’s Buckingham Palace, crowds waiting for updates on the Queen’s condition broke into tears upon hearing the news of her death.
The Union flag above the palace was lowered to half-mast at 18:30 BST and an official notice announcing the death was posted outside.
On the Queen’s death, Prince William and his wife Catherine became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall.
Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on 21 April 1926 in Mayfair, London.
Few predicted she would become king, but in December 1936 her uncle Edward VIII abdicated to marry twice-divorced American Wallace Simpson.
Elizabeth’s father became King George VI and, at the age of 10, Lilybet, as she was known in the family, became heir to the throne.
Within three years, Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, spent much of the war at Windsor Castle after their parents’ proposals to remove them from Canada were rejected.
After turning 18, Elizabeth spent five months with the Auxiliary Territorial Service and learned basic motor mechanics and driving skills. “I began to understand the spirit de corps that thrives in the face of adversity,” he later recalled.
Through the war, he exchanged letters with his third cousin Philip, Prince of Greece, who was serving in the Royal Navy.
Their romance blossomed and the couple married at Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947, with the Prince receiving the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
She would later describe him as “my strength and stay” during their 74-year marriage, before her death in 2021, aged 99.
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