Queen Elizabeth II has died today aged 96.
Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King Charles III, as the world grieves his mother, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
All Her Majesty’s children had rushed to Balmoral today after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Hours later she died, surrounded by her family.
At 6.30pm her death was confirmed. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow’.
The Queen’s death will see Britain and her Commonwealth realms enter into a ten-day period of mourning as millions of her subjects in the UK and abroad come to terms with her passing. Her coffin will be moved to London on the royal train via Edinburgh before she lies in state in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament for four days. Hundreds of thousands of people will be able to pay their respects.
The state funeral is expected take place at Westminster Abbey in central London on Monday, September 19, which will be attended by her bereft family as well as 2,000 heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, European royals and key figures from public life around the globe.
A photo at Buckingham Palace to mark the engagement of Princess Elizabeth (later the Queen) and Philip Mountbatten (later Duke of Edinburgh) in July 1947, with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, King George VI and Princess Margaret
And as her son accedes to the throne, there will also be a celebration of her historic 70-year reign that saw her reach her Platinum Jubilee this year – a landmark unlikely to be reached again by a British monarch.
Charles, who will reign as King Charles III, said today: ‘The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
‘We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
‘During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.’
Tributes are already pouring in for Her Majesty, to many the greatest Briton in history and undoubtedly the most famous woman on earth. To billions around the world she was the very face of Britishness.
Liz Truss hailed the Queen, who appointed her as the 15th Prime Minister of her reign on Tuesday, said: ‘Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.’
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the late Prince Philips the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands in this picture released on November 18, 2007
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said the Queen was ‘more than a monarch’ and that she ‘defined an era’. A White House statement said: ‘In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. She, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service’.
To her subjects at home, Her Majesty was the nation’s anchor, holding firm no matter what storm she or her country was facing – from the uncertain aftermath of the Second World War to, more recently, the pandemic. She was also steadfast as she dealt with tragedies and scandals in her own family, most recently the fallout from Megxit and the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip.
Charles will embark on a tour of the UK before his mother’s funeral with his wife Camilla, who the Queen announced would be crowned her eldest son’s Queen Consort in an historic statement to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne on February 6.
The Queen’s passing came more than a year after that of her beloved husband Philip, her ‘strength and guide’, who died aged 99 in April 2021. Since his funeral, where she poignantly sat alone because of lockdown restrictions, her own health faltered, and she was forced to miss an increasing number of events mainly due to ‘mobility problems’ and tiredness.
In July she travelled to Scotland for her annual summer break, but cancelled her traditional welcome to Balmoral Castle in favour of a small more private event because of her health, believed to be linked to her ability to stand. And at the end of July, Prince Charles represented his mother and opened the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the Duchess of Cornwall. In late August Queen missed the Braemar Gathering – the first time she was not at the Highland Games in her 70-year reign.
But she was well enough to meet with Boris Johnson at Balmoral to accept his resignation, before asking the 15th Prime Minister of her reign, Liz Truss, to form a Government. Her Majesty, who stood with the support of a stick and smiled as she greeted Ms Truss in front of a roaring fire, had not been seen in public for two months. It would be her final picture.
Today all her children and Prince William flew into Scotland from all over the UK to get to Her Majesty’s bedside before she died. Prince Harry did not travel to Scotland from Windsor with his family – and Meghan Markle stayed at Frogmore Cottage. But he did not make it to Balmoral in time and landed in Aberdeen around 15 minutes after the death of his grandmother was announced. He arrived at the castle just before 8pm to join his father, brother and other mourners.