Britain’s longest-reigning Queen Elizabeth II has died in Balmoral at the age of 96, after ruling for 70 years.
His 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.
The senior royals gathered at their Scottish estate on Thursday after concerns about his health grew.
The queen came to the throne in 1952 and saw enormous social change.
His Majesty the King said: “We deeply mourn the passing of a cherished sovereign and a very dear mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt by countless people across the country, the region and the Commonwealth and around the world.”
He added that he and his family will be “consoled and supported by our knowledge of the Queen’s such widespread respect and deep affection” during the period of mourning and change.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Queen passed away peacefully this afternoon at Balmoral.
“The King and the Queen Consort will be at Balmoral this evening and return to London tomorrow.”
After doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision, all of the Queen’s children moved to Balmoral, near Aberdeen.
His grandson, Prince William, is on his way with his brother, Prince Harry.
Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen on Tuesday, said the monarch was the rock on which modern Britain was built. He “gave us the stability and strength we needed”.
Speaking of the new king, he said: “We are indebted to his loyalty and devotion. Just as his mother devoted so long, so many others.
“And with the passing of the second Elizabethan era, we begin a new era in the glorious history of our great country. By uttering the words ‘God save the king,’ as His Majesty wished.”
- Obituary: a long life marked by a sense of duty
- The moment his death was announced on the BBC
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from Empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and Britain’s accession – and withdrawal from the European Union.
Her reign also includes 15 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and Ms Truss, 101 years later, born in 1975.
He kept weekly audiences with his prime minister throughout his reign.
The crowd at Buckingham Palace in London cried as they heard the news of the Queen’s death. The Union flag at the top of the palace was flown at half-mast at 18:30 BST. An official notice announcing the death was posted on an easel outside.
Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on 21 April 1926 in Mayfair, London.
Some might have thought she would become monarch but in December 1936 her uncle Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Elizabeth’s father became King George VI and at the age of 10, Lilibet, 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 their time at Windsor Castle after their parents rejected suggestions to evacuate to Canada.
After turning 18, Elizabeth spent five months with the Auxiliary Territorial Service and learned basic motor mechanic and driving skills. “I began to understand the esprit de corps that thrives in adversity,” she 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 assuming the title Duke of Edinburgh.
She would later describe him as “my strength and life” during a marriage of 74 years, before his death in 2021, at the age of 99.
Their first son, Charles, was born in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964. Between them, he gave his parents eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Princess Elizabeth was representing the ailing king in Kenya in 1952. When Philip reported that his father had died. She immediately returned to London as the new queen.
“It was all kind of a very sudden and the best thing you could do was doing it,” she later recalled.
Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953 at the age of 27. In front of the record TV audience at the time was estimated at over 20 million people.
Subsequent decades would see a huge change with the end of the British Empire abroad and the swinging 60s removing social norms at home.
Elizabeth reformed the monarchy for this less respectable era. Connecting with the public through walkouts, royal visits and attendance at public events. His commitment to the Commonwealth was unwavering. He visited every Commonwealth country at least once.
But there were periods of private and public pain. In 1992, a fire devastated Windsor Castle, the Queen’s “Annus horribilis”. A private residence as well as a working palace – and his three children’s marriages fell apart.
Following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car accident in Paris in 1997, the Queen has been criticized for appearing reluctant to respond publicly.
There were questions about the relevance of monarchy in modern society.
He acknowledged, “No institution should expect … to be free from scrutiny by those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who do not.”
As a 21-year-old princess, Elizabeth vowed to devote her life to service.
Decades later, during his silver jubilee in 1977, he declared on those words: “Though this vow was done in my salad days. When I was green in judgment, I do not regret a word of it nor Have to return. Have to take. “
The same commitment to service was made 45 years later in a letter of thanks to the nation on the weekend of his Platinum Jubilee in June.
The milestone was celebrated with a mix of state celebrations and a colorful festival of all things British, as well as lively street parties.
Although the Queen’s health kept him away from some incidents, he added: “My heart is with you all.”