Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died peacefully at Balmoral, the palace has announced.
In a statement issued shortly after 6:30pm, Buckingham Palace 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.”
King Charles III made a statement in which he said, “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.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said, “With profound sadness, I join the nation, the Commonwealth and the world in mourning the death of Her Late Majesty The Queen.”
Charles is now King and will lead the nation’s mourning. Clarence House has confirmed that his regnal name will be Charles III. The King was heir to the throne for 70 years, since the age of three. The Duchess of Cornwall is now Queen Consort.
Flags on landmark buildings across Britain were being lowered as a period of official mourning was announced.
Earlier today, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral after doctors expressed concern. The statement read, “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
Just after 12:30, BBC One interrupted normal programming to deliver a statement that the Queen’s doctors said they were concerned for her health, adding that the 96-year-old remained comfortable. All of the Queen’s four children along with her daughters-in-law, and Prince William and Prince Harry travelled to Balmoral Castle to be with her.
Well-wishers are gathered at the gates of Balmoral, as well as outside Buckingham Palace.
The Queen had been suffering from ill health for almost a year. She had to pull out of a number of events because of what was said to be problems with her mobility.
She made appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee and just this week carried out her audience with the new prime minister. Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Liz Truss, born 101 years later in 1975, and appointed by the Queen earlier this week.
Pope Francis has paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, saying, “I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises”
I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises”
PM Truss made a statement from Downing Street, saying, “We are all devastated by the news we have just heard from Balmoral. The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world. 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. She ascended the throne just after the Second World War. She championed the development of the Commonwealth – from a small group of seven countries to a family of 56 nations spanning every continent of the world. We are now a modern, thriving, dynamic nation.
“Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed. She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure. She has been our longest-ever reigning monarch.
“It is an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years. Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories. In return, she was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and all around the world.
“She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons. Her devotion to duty is an example to us all. Earlier this week, at 96, she remained determined to carry out her duties as she appointed me as her 15th prime minister.
“Throughout her life she has visited more than 100 countries and she has touched the lives of millions around the world.
“In the difficult days ahead, we will come together with our friends across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world to celebrate her extraordinary lifetime of service.
“It is a day of great loss, but Queen Elizabeth II leaves a great legacy.
“Today the Crown passes – as it is has done for more than a thousand years – to our new monarch, our new head of state: His Majesty King Charles III.
“With the King’s family, we mourn the loss of his mother. And as we mourn, we must come together as a people to support him. To help him bear the awesome responsibility that he now carries for us all.
“We offer him our loyalty and devotion just as his mother devoted so much to so many for so long. And with the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country – exactly as Her Majesty would have wished – by saying the words God save the King.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to the Queen, saying, “We will always treasure Queen Elizabeth II’s life of service and devotion to our nation and the Commonwealth; our longest-serving and greatest monarch. Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon.
“As Britain changed rapidly around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world. So as our great Elizabethan era comes to an end, we will honour the late Queen’s memory by keeping alive the values of public service she embodied.
“For seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II stood as the head of our country. But, in spirit, she stood amongst us.”
Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead, said, “I am profoundly saddened by the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, drawing to a close an extraordinary reign. My thoughts on this momentous and very difficult day are with her family and with all those who took such comfort in her seventy long years of service to our country.”
Elizabeth was born at 02:40 (GMT) on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V.
Her father, the Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, at whose London home (17 Bruton Street, Mayfair) she was delivered by Caesarean section.
She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May, and named Elizabeth after her mother; Alexandra after her paternal great-grandmother, who had died six months earlier; and Mary after her paternal grandmother.
Called “Lilibet” by her close family, based on what she called herself at first, she was cherished by her grandfather, George V, whom she affectionately called “Grandpa England”, and her regular visits during his serious illness in 1929 were credited in the popular press and by later biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery.
During her grandfather’s reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the British throne, behind her uncle Edward and her father.
Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as Edward was still young and likely to marry and have children of his own, who would precede Elizabeth in the line of succession.
When her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second in line to the throne, after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis.
Consequently, Elizabeth’s father became king, taking the regnal name George VI. Since Elizabeth had no brothers, she became heir presumptive.
If her parents had subsequently borne a son, he would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession, which was determined by male-preference primogeniture at the time.
In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War. Lord Hailsham suggested that Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the frequent aerial bombings of London by the Luftwaffe.
This was rejected by their mother, who declared, “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.”
The princesses stayed at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, until Christmas 1939, when they moved to Sandringham House, Norfolk.
From February to May 1940, they lived at Royal Lodge, Windsor, until moving to Windsor Castle, where they lived for most of the next five years. At Windsor, the princesses staged pantomimes at Christmas in aid of the Queen’s Wool Fund, which bought yarn to knit into military garments.
In 1940, the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC’s Children’s Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities.
In February 1945, she was appointed as an honorary second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the service number of 230873. She trained as a driver and mechanic and was given the rank of honorary junior commander (female equivalent of captain at the time) five months later.
At the end of the war in Europe, on Victory in Europe Day, Elizabeth and Margaret mingled incognito with the celebrating crowds in the streets of London.
Elizabeth later said in a rare interview, “We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised … I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”
George VI’s health declined during 1951, and Elizabeth frequently stood in for him at public events. When she toured Canada and visited President Harry S. Truman in Washington, D.C., in October 1951, her private secretary, Martin Charteris, carried a draft accession declaration in case of the King’s death while she was on tour.
In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand by way of Kenya. On 6 February 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home, Sagana Lodge, after a night spent at Treetops Hotel, when word arrived of the death of George VI and Elizabeth’s consequent accession to the throne with immediate effect.
Philip broke the news to the new queen. She chose to retain Elizabeth as her regnal name; thus she was called Elizabeth II, which offended many Scots, as she was the first Elizabeth to rule in Scotland.
She was proclaimed queen throughout her realms and the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom. Elizabeth and Philip moved into Buckingham Palace.
From Elizabeth’s birth onwards, the British Empire continued its transformation into the Commonwealth of Nations.
By the time of her accession in 1952, her role as head of multiple independent states was already established. In 1953, the Queen and her husband embarked on a seven-month round-the-world tour, visiting 13 countries and covering more than 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometres) by land, sea and air.
She became the first reigning monarch of Australia and New Zealand to visit those nations. During the tour, crowds were immense; three-quarters of the population of Australia were estimated to have seen her.
Throughout her reign, the Queen made hundreds of state visits to other countries and tours of the Commonwealth; she is the most widely travelled head of state.
The 1960s and 1970s saw an acceleration in the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean.
More than 20 countries gained independence from Britain as part of a planned transition to self-government.
In 1965, however, the Rhodesian prime minister, Ian Smith, in opposition to moves towards majority rule, unilaterally declared independence while expressing “loyalty and devotion” to Elizabeth, declaring her “Queen of Rhodesia”.
Although the Queen formally dismissed him, and the international community applied sanctions against Rhodesia, his regime survived for over a decade.
As Britain’s ties to its former empire weakened, the British government sought entry to the European Community, a goal it achieved in 1973
During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony, six weeks before the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, six shots were fired at the Queen from close range as she rode down The Mall, London, on her horse, Burmese.
Police later discovered the shots were blanks. The 17-year-old assailant, Marcus Sarjeant, was sentenced to five years in prison and released after three. The Queen’s composure and skill in controlling her mount were widely praised.
That October the Queen was the subject of another attack while on a visit to Dunedin, New Zealand.
Christopher John Lewis, who was 17 years old, fired a shot with a .22 rifle from the fifth floor of a building overlooking the parade, but missed. Lewis was arrested, but never charged with attempted murder or treason, and sentenced to three years in jail for unlawful possession and discharge of a firearm.
Two years into his sentence, he attempted to escape a psychiatric hospital with the intention of assassinating Charles, who was visiting the country with Diana and their son Prince William.
After hosting US president Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982 and visiting his California ranch in 1983, the Queen was angered when his administration ordered the invasion of Grenada, one of her Caribbean realms, without informing her.
Intense media interest in the opinions and private lives of the royal family during the 1980s led to a series of sensational stories in the press, not all of which were entirely true.
As Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of The Sun, told his staff: “Give me a Sunday for Monday splash on the Royals. Don’t worry if it’s not true—so long as there’s not too much of a fuss about it afterwards.”
In May 2007, citing unnamed sources, The Daily Telegraph reported that the Queen was “exasperated and frustrated” by the policies of Tony Blair, that she was concerned the British Armed Forces were overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that she had raised concerns over rural and countryside issues with Blair.
She was, however, said to admire Blair’s efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.
She became the first British monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary in November 2007.
The Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee marked 60 years on the throne, and celebrations were held throughout her realms, the wider Commonwealth, and beyond.
She and her husband undertook an extensive tour of the United Kingdom, while her children and grandchildren embarked on royal tours of other Commonwealth states on her behalf.
On 4 June, Jubilee beacons were lit around the world.
While touring Manchester as part of her Jubilee celebrations, the Queen made a surprise appearance at a wedding party at Manchester Town Hall, which then made international headlines.
In November, the Queen and her husband celebrated their blue sapphire wedding anniversary (65th).
On 18 December, she became the first British sovereign to attend a peacetime Cabinet meeting since George III in 1781.
The Queen surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-lived British monarch on 21 December 2007, and the longest-reigning British monarch and longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in the world on 9 September 2015.
She became the oldest current monarch after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died on 23 January 2015.
She later became the longest-reigning current monarch and the longest-serving current head of state following the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand on 13 October 2016, and the oldest current head of state on the resignation of Robert Mugabe on 21 November 2017.
On 6 February 2017, she became the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee, and on 20 November, she was the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.
Philip died of old age on the morning of 9 April 2021 at Windsor Castle, at the age of 99, two months before his 100th birthday. He was the longest-serving royal consort in world history.
The Queen, who was reportedly at her husband’s bedside when he died, described his death as “having left a huge void in her life”.
His death led to the commencement of Operation Forth Bridge, the plan for publicly announcing his death and organising his funeral. The usual public ceremonial could not take place because of the regulations for the COVID-19 pandemic which restricted the number of mourners to thirty; it was later reported in the press that the Queen had rejected a government offer to relax the rules.
The funeral took place on 17 April 2021 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and he was interred in the Royal Vault inside St George’s.
The Duke’s body is expected to be moved and interred in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George’s, on the death of the Queen.