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Queen Elizabeth II Has Died Aged 96

6 min read

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. 

"The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. 

"The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow."

The Queen's eldest son Charles, Prince of Wales, will now succeed the throne. 

In a statement, 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."

In a statement outside Downing Street, Prime Minister Liz Truss led tributes to the Queen saying she was "the rock on which modern Britain was built".

"Britain is the great country it is today because of her. She was the very spirit of Britain, and that spirit will endure," she said.

“She has been our longest ever reigning monarch. It's 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. 

Truss ended her speech with: "God save The King".

In a statement, opposition leader Keir Starmer said: “Today, we mourn the passing of a remarkable sovereign.

“It is a deep, private loss for the Royal Family and all our thoughts are with them at this time. The nation shares in their grief.

“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."

Serving for almost seven decades, the Queen was a global figurehead, devoted to public service and a constant figure in British life in a period of rapid political change. 

As sovereign she was also head of the British Armed Forces, Supreme Governor of the Church of England and a figurehead for more than 50 countries worldwide as Head of the Commonwealth. 

Her late husband Prince Philip was at her side for 73 years until his death in April 2021.

After a period of mourning she continued her engagements with vigour but had recently taken a step back from her usually busy diary. 

The Queen met with new Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday for an official transfer of power, but cancelled a meeting of the Privy council later that week. 

On Thursday, senior members of the Royal Family travelled to Balmoral after it emerged that the Queen's health had deteriorated. 

Queen Elizabeth was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in Mayfair on 21 April 1926 to Prince Albert, then Duke of York and who would later become King George VI, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Nicknamed Lilibet, a name later used by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for their daughter in tribute to his grandmother, she spent much of her childhood in London and at Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park. She was educated with her youngster sister Princess Margaret by a number of tutors. 

She wasn’t expected to become heir to the throne but that changed in 1936 when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson. Her father was crowned King George VI in 1937. 

During the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and learnt to drive and fix vehicles, an act the public saw as solidarity from the Royal Family to the wider war effort. 

She married naval officer Philip Mountbatten, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in 1947. They welcomed Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950. Nine years later she had Prince Andrew and Prince Edward was born in 1963. 

Queen Elizabeth reigned throughout a tumultuous period of British history. 

When the Queen had her televised coronation in 1953, the globe was still in a period of post-war recovery. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, Stalin was still leader of the then USSR and Truman was President of the US. Her earliest years as Queen saw her lead the monarchy as independence movements swept through former British colonies.

Britain's relationship also changed with Europe and by 1973 the country joined the European Community as part of its enlargement. The 1980s saw the UK's first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War, and ended with the dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall, signalling the end of bitter Cold War divisions.

The 1990s was perhaps the lowest time for the monarchy as Charles and Andrew's marriages collapsed publicly. The Royal Family also attracted significant criticism over their public reaction to the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997.

In 2002 she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years on the throne, and a decade later she took a starring role in the London 2012 Olympic Games where she "parachuted" into the stadium in a James Bond style stunt displaying a sense of fun that touched the nation.

A year earlier in 2011 the wedding of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton sparked a period of renewed popularity for the Royals.

Years later her family was hit with a bitter rift when Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, declared they wanted to change their relationship with the monarchy. This ultimately ended in them leaving their Royal duties. 

The Queen responded to the pair’s explosive claims of an incidence of racism within the Royal Family in their interview with Oprah Winfrey by saying it was "concerning", adding it would be dealt with privately and that Prince Harry and his wife would always be much-loved family members. 

Throughout her reign, the Queen continued to win huge admiration for her dignity and commitment to public service with a stream of engagements despite being in her advancing years, and her dedication to the country.

Her charitable work was extensive. She served as patron of up to 500 organisations, though some of those were shared out between other members of the family in 2016.

She was also known for her deep love of the countryside with summers spent in Scotland at the Balmoral estate. Her keen horsemanship and interest in horse racing dominated family life with her daughter Princess Anne and granddaughter Zara sharing her passion, both becoming professional sportswomen. 

Her presence at Royal Ascot was a regular part of the racing calendar and an event much enjoyed by the Royals. Dogs were another passion and she is said to have had more than 30 corgis during her reign.

The Queen is survived by her four children, eight grand-children, and 12 great-grandchildren, including Prince George, a future heir to the throne. 

Reporting by Kate Proctor and Eleanor Langford

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