Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch whose rule spanned seven decades, died on Thursday at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace has announced.
Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952, on the death of her father, King George VI. She oversaw the last throes of the British empire, weathered global upheaval and domestic scandal, and dramatically modernized the monarchy.
She died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after doctors said they had become concerned about her health on Thursday.
Elizabeth ruled over the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, and became one of the most recognizable women ever to have lived.
“My life will always be devoted to your service.”
It was a vow she made repeatedly throughout her record-breaking reign, most recently in a message marking the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne.
Elizabeth II may not have been born to be monarch, but once fate had intervened, she steadfastly committed her time on earth to duty and service.
Even in the twilight years of her life, as many speculated on whether she might step back or perhaps even abdicate, she remained resolute in her devotion to her role.
As the coronavirus pandemic swept the world in 2020, the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, retreated from London to Windsor Castle. As in other times of crisis, the nation sought reassurance from the monarch, who evoked wartime references before firmly declaring “we will succeed.”
Keen to remain a presence in public life amid the lockdowns and social distancing measures, she pivoted like many of us did and began working from home, participating in virtual engagements and undertaking more calls.
Following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in April 2021, she resumed her royal duties with typical steadfastness.
Her first public appearance took place a month after the death of her “strength and stay” with the State Opening of Parliament.
She tested positive for Covid-19 in February 2022, though she continued with some of her light duties despite suffering from mild cold-like symptoms.
In July, she traveled to her private Scottish home of Balmoral for the start of her traditional summer break. On Sept. 6, the Queen received former Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Balmoral Castle as he left office before she greeted Liz Truss to ask her to form a government and become prime minister. The historic audience was the first time the 96-year-old monarch carried out the key duty at her retreat in Aberdeenshire, rather than at London’s Buckingham Palace.
News of her death truly marks the end of an era for the United Kingdom, with most of its people having known no other monarch at their head.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reacted Thursday to the news that Queen Elizabeth II has died at 96, saying that “our hearts and our thoughts” go to the family and the people of the United Kingdom.
“Our hearts and our thoughts go to the family members of the Queen, goes to the people of United Kingdom. I don’t want to get ahead of what the President is going to say,” Jean-Pierre said at the end of the White House press briefing, reacting live to the news of the Queen’s passing.
Charles immediately became King upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
The Royal family referred to Charles as King in announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth. The tweet referred to Camila as the Queen Consort.
As heir apparent since the age of three, he has been the longest serving heir to the throne in British history.
Upon becoming the sovereign, Charles has the option to take any name he chooses for his reign as King. For example, King George VI’s real name was actually Albert. Two previous monarchs have been called Charles.
Charles had already been taking on some of the Queen’s engagements this year as her health had become enough of a concern for her to cancel some of her commitments, including the State Opening of Parliament.
Both Charles and Prince William had been prioritizing the Queen’s diary over theirs. Both of them had been activated as Counsellors of State, where the Queen delegates her sovereign power for specific purposes, and they were obligated to be even more available for those duties.