longest reigning monarch in British history and a symbol of continuity and stability from the postwar era into the 21st century, has died. She was 96. … and universally loved … just three months after Britain held four days of public celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee, which marked her 70 years on the throne.
‘We mourn profoundly’: Charles issues statement on Queen’s death
Her death was announced at 6.30pm London time prompting a wave of public mourning and triggering the immediate ascension of Prince Charles as King.
On Wednesday, the palace announced her doctors had ordered the Queen to rest just a day after she appointed the 15th British prime minister of her reign, Liz Truss. Less than 24 hours later it was confirmed her doctors were “concerned” for her health and recommended she be put under medical supervision. All of her children and several other family members travelled to Scotland to be by her side.
Charles has succeeded his mother as King and head of the royal family, with a coronation ceremony to be staged at Westminster Abbey in the coming months. The 73-year-old is the oldest newly crowned monarch in British history. He has been first-in-line to the throne since he was three.
Queen Elizabeth photographed on Tuesday when she met new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Her death will plunge Britain and 14 other realms, including Australia, into an official period of mourning which will be observed throughout more than 30 other Commonwealth member states, almost all former territories of the British Empire.
The King is expected to make a formal address within 24 hours and meet with British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Prince Charles, seen here with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, becomes King.
Truss, one of the last people to meet with the Queen two days before her death, said the late monarch was “the rock on which modern Britain was built”.
“Our country has grown and flourished under her reign,” she told the nation from Downing Street.
“Britain is the great country it is today because of her … She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure.”
Australia’s Governor-General, David Hurley, said the Queen has offered a lifetime of tireless service.
“When I reflect on my own memories – she was my Queen for my whole life – I think of Her Majesty’s dignity and her compassion,” he said in a statement. “Her dedication and tireless work ethic. And her selflessness and unwavering commitment to the people that she served. To us.”
Elizabeth became sovereign in 1952 following the sudden death of her father, King George VI. She was just 25 at the time and in the 70 years since has morphed into an adored leadership figure and one of the world’s most admired women.
Her death will spark new speculation over the monarchy’s long-term future and fuel debate in Commonwealth countries such as Australia about whether it is time for them to become a republic.
Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband of 73 years, died at Windsor Castle in April 2021 after being treated in hospital for an infection and heart condition. He was just two months short of his 100th birthday.
The Queen is survived by her four children Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
She had travelled to her private Scottish home of Balmoral for the start of her traditional summer break on July 21. Her death has triggered Operation London Bridge, the codename for the monarch’s carefully designed funeral plans.
Her coffin is expected to lie in state in Westminster Hall in central London for four days for the public to file past and pay their respects. More than 200,000 people attended when the Queen Mother’s body was laid in state following her death in 2002.
A funeral is expected to be held at Westminster Abbey within nine days, followed by a smaller family service at Windsor Castle within 12 days.
The monarch permanently moved from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle west of London at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
She was just 25 when she became Queen Elizabeth II on February 6, 1952, on the death of her father and reigned for 70 years and 214 days – a record beaten only by Louis XIV (72 years and 110 days).
Public appearances became increasing rare in 2022, missing events such as the Commonwealth Day Service in March and Easter Sunday service in April as the palace wound back her official duties amid speculation she had been forced into a wheelchair because of her worsening mobility.
When she did undertake public duties she was visibly more frail than she had been previously, often with a walking stick.
“As you can see, I can’t move”: The Queen now uses a walking stick.
This week she broke a longstanding tradition meet with Truss at Balmoral and invite her to form government. She had performed the ceremony at Buckingham Palace since she came to the throne.
On February 20, the palace announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19, a week after Prince Charles announced he had contracted the disease for the second time.
The Queen had received three doses of a coronavirus vaccine and had spent most of the first two years of the pandemic isolating at Windsor Castle in a protective bubble of trusted and continuously tested attendants.
Just days before her COVID diagnosis was announced, she told two military visitors to Windsor Castle that, “as you can see, I can’t move”, when she stood to greet them while leaning upon her cane.
Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a service of Thanksgiving to mark the centenary of The Royal British Legion at Westminster Abbey on October 12, 2021 in London, England.
In May, she missed the annual state opening of parliament for just the third time, handing over the constitutional duties for the first time to Charles, in a significant moment of his gradual transition to sovereign.
She made only brief appearances at her Jubilee celebrations, both times on the palace balcony with her family to wave to adoring crowds. But she did provide one show-stopping moment in a short skit alongside Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear to open a pop concert in her honour.
She addressed her own mortality in a pre-recorded video address to delegates at the Glasgow Climate Summit in November 2021.
“It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit – written in history books yet to be printed – will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity; and that you answered the call of those future generations,” she said.
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