She was dubbed, “The accidental Queen.” Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, England’s longest-serving monarch who held the throne for 70 years, died Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced. She died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.
With Elizabeth’s death, her eldest son, Charles (73), will become king. He is now the oldest monarch to be coronated in British history.
The Royal website has gone dark with the somber news:
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the monarchy said in a statement. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
His Majesty King Charles, who shared a warm relationship with The Queen, released a warm and heartfelt tribute to his mother:
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of great sadness for me and all members of my family,” the statement reads. It continues: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt through the country, the Reals, 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.”
A statement from His Majesty The King: pic.twitter.com/AnBiyZCher
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary rose to the throne in 1952, after the death of her father, King George VI. The Queen served as the longest-serving female head of state in history, becoming the only constant among modern world leaders. She had 15 prime ministers beginning with Winston Churchill and ending with Liz Truss. Elizabeth also met with 15 different United States presidents starting with Harry Truman. She ruled over the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, becoming one of the most recognizable women in global history.
She sat on the throne during the dissolution of the British Empire and its replacement with the Commonwealth of Nations; the Suez crisis of 1956; the decades of sectarian and political violence in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles”; and both the U.K.’s entrance in and exit from the European Union.
Elizabeth also weathered Royal family public scandals and tragedies including the divorce of Charles and his first wife, Diana, and then Diana’s tragic death in a car accident in 1997 at age 36. More recently, she has endured a scandal surrounding her middle son, Prince Andrew, who has been accused of child sexual abuse in his associations with the late American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Queen’s health had been in decline recently. In February 2022, Elizabeth tested positive for COVID-19 and was sequestered. She was also briefly hospitalized.
Her reign has been depicted many times in film and TV, including Netflix’s Emmy-winning series The Crown. In 2008, Helen Mirren won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the monarch at various ages in the film The Queen.
A solemn White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reacted Thursday to the news that Queen Elizabeth II had 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.
As tearful crowds, fearing the worst, gathered outside of Buckingham Palace, a double rainbow appeared.
A double rainbow appears above Buckingham Palace where crowds have gathered amid fears for Queen Elizabeth’s health.— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 8, 2022
📷 Victoria Jones / Getty Images pic.twitter.com/HlqD73u8WQ
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered the Capitol flags to be flown at half-staff after Queen Elizabeth’s death, according to her spokesperson Drew Hammil.