Queen Elizabeth dies at 96, ending an era for Britain – Reuters UK
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died aged 96 at Balmoral, having ruled for 70 years. Her son, King Charles III, said his beloved Mother’s death was “a time of deep sadness” for him and his family, and her loss will be “deeply felt” across the world. Senior royals had gathered at her Scottish estate following growing concerns over her health early Thursday. The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and has seen immense social change.
King Charles said: We grieve deeply at the loss of our treasured Sovereign and our much-loved Mother. “I know that the loss of her will be profoundly felt across the nation, in the kingdom, and in the Commonwealth, and by innumerable people throughout the world.” She will lead the nation in its grief, serving as new King and Head of State of 14 Commonwealth realms.
Camilla, his wife, has been made Queen Consort. During the coming period, he said that he and his family will “be comforted and sustained by the knowledge of the regard and profound affection that is held for the Queen in such wide affection.”
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died at Balmoral in peace this afternoon. The King and Queen Consort are staying at Balmoral tonight, returning to London tomorrow. All of the Queen’s children have traveled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision. Her nephew, now heir to the throne, Prince William, was there as well, and her brother, Prince Harry, was en route.
Prime Minister Liz Truss, appointed on Tuesday by the Queen, said the monarch was the pillar upon which modern Britain was built, providing “us with the stability and power that we needed.” Speaking of the new King, she said: We offer him our loyalty and devotion, in much the same way that his Mother gave so much, for so many, over such a long period of time. And in the passing of a second Elizabethan century, we are heralding in a new age in the glorious history of our great country, exactly as her Majesty would wish, with a saying, God Save the King”.
Queen Elizabeth II time in office as head of state encompassed the period after World War II, austerity, the shift from Empire to the Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War. It also included Britain’s entrance and exit from the European Union. Her reign covered 15 prime ministers, beginning with Winston Churchill.
At Buckingham Palace in London, the crowd waiting for updates on the Queen’s health began to weep when they heard about her death. The British flag at the top of the palace was reduced to half-mast at 6:30 pm British Summer Time, while a formal notice was posted outside to declare her death.
On the Queen’s death, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, became Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall. An official notice said: The Queen died at Balmoral in peace this afternoon. The King and the Queens consort are staying in Balmoral tonight, returning to London tomorrow.
The Queen was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21 1926, in Mayfair, London. Few would have predicted that she would be the monarch, but in December 1936, her uncle, Edward VIII, resigned from the throne to marry American Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, and at aged 10, Lilybet, as she was known within the family, became heir to the throne.
Within three years, the United Kingdom was at war with Nazi Germany. Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, spent most of the war years in Windsor Castle after their parents rejected suggestions that they evacuate to Canada.
After turning 18, Elizabeth spent five months in the auxiliary territorial service, learning basic car mechanics and driving skills. “I began to learn about esprit de corps, which thrives when faced with hardship,” she later recalled. During the war, she exchanged letters with her third cousin, Prince Philippe of Greece, who was serving in the Royal Navy.
Their love affair blossomed, and on November 20, 1947, the pair married in Westminster Abbey, the prince taking the title of Duke of Edinburgh. She later described him as “my pillar and anchor” during their 74-year marriage until he died in 2021, aged 99.
Their first child, Charles, was born in 1948, followed by Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964. Between them, they gave their parents eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya in 1952, representing an ailing King, when Philippe broke the news that her father had died.
She promptly returned to London as the new Queen. “It was all a sudden sort of taking over and doing the best you could,” she recalled afterward. Elizabeth was crowned in Westminster Abbey, on June 2, 1953, aged 27, before what was at the time an estimated television audience of over 20 million.
The following decades would bring about major changes, as the British Empire ended abroad, and the Swinging Sixties upended social norms at home. Elizabeth would reform the monarchy to fit into this less deferential era, engaging the public with walking tours, royal visits, and attending public events. Her engagement with the Commonwealth was constant: she visited each Commonwealth nation at least once.
But there were periods of private and public grief. In 1992, during Queen Anne’s “annu horribilis,” a fire destroyed Windsor Castle — both the personal home and working palace — and the marriages of her three sons broke up. Following Diana, Princess of Wales,s death in a Paris car crash in 1997, the Queen attracted criticism for appearing unwilling to address it publicly. Questions were raised as to whether the monarchy was relevant to contemporary society.
She acknowledged that “no institution…should expect to escape scrutiny by those who have given it their allegiance and support, let alone by those who have not”.
As a 21-year-old princess, Elizabeth had promised to dedicate her life to serving. Reflecting on these words decades later, at her silver anniversary in 1977, she declared: Although this vow was made on the days I was green with judgment, I have no regrets and no retractions from any words of it. That same pledge of service was made 45 years later, in a letter to the nation on the weekend of her platinum anniversary in June.
The milestone was marked by state ceremonies and an exciting celebration of all things British, along with spirited street parties. Although the Queen’s health prevented her from attending some events, she said: “My heart is with all of you”.
For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:
- Queen Elizabeth dies at 96, ending an era for Britain Reuters UK
- Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, dies at 96 I FOX 7 Austin FOX 7 Austin
- Queen Elizabeth II has died BBC
- Opinion | Britain’s Queen Elizabeth was the last of her kind The Washington Post
- Opinion | Queen Elizabeth Leaves Behind a Radically Different Britain The New York Times