Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom died on Thursday at the age of 96.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the royal family said in a statement on their official website. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Her 73-year-old son, Prince Charles, becomes king automatically, though the coronation may take months. It’s unclear whether he’ll proclaim himself King Charles III or something else.
In February 2022, Elizabeth will be 70 years old. In recent months, as she struggled to get around, she had increasingly delegated duties to her heir, Prince Charles, and other members of the royal family.
Most Britons have never known a sovereign other than Britain’s longest-serving monarch. The queen had been a continuous presence as Britain dealt with the end of empire, the swinging ’60s, the 1980s labor unrest, international terrorism, Brexit, and the COVID-19 epidemic.
Buckingham Palace said on Sept. 8 that the queen was under medical care because doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health,” as members of her family flew to Scotland to visit the 96-year-old monarch.
“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 palace stated in a statement that provoked outrage.
The decision came a day after the queen canceled a Privy Council meeting and was instructed to rest. She had presided over the formal handover of power to new Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier in the week at her holiday house in Scotland, Balmoral Castle.
After the death of her father, King George VI, and five years after marrying Prince Philip, popularly known as the Duke of Edinburgh, at London’s Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952. She and Prince Philip are the parents of four children, eight grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
In April 2021, Prince Philip died at the age of 99.
The Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s youngest great-grandchild was born on September 20, 2021.
In May, the queen assigned to Prince Charles one of her most significant public obligations, having him preside over the state opening of Parliament and deliver the Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s legislative agenda. The event represents the monarch’s constitutional duty as head of state, and it is accompanied by centuries of tradition intended to display the power of Britain’s political institutions.
The queen was diagnosed with COVID-19 in February 2022, shortly after her eldest son, Prince Charles, 73, and her 74-year-old daughter-in-law, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were also diagnosed.
The monarch expressed a “sincere wish” that Camilla be called as “Queen Consort” when her son succeeds her as planned in words released on the 70th anniversary of her rule. With those statements, Elizabeth attempted to put an end to speculation about Camilla’s whereabouts, who had been ostracized by supporters of Charles’ first wife, the late Princess Diana.
Following her recovery from COVID, the monarch made her first public appearance in months at a thanksgiving service for her beloved husband, Prince Philip. She entered the chapel on the arm of her second son, Prince Andrew, before distancing herself from him to proceed to her seat alone, allaying fears about her health. The king was heavily involved in the service’s planning, which included hymns and tributes from Philip’s charities. Because of the pandemic’s restrictions, such touches were not permitted during his funeral.
The memorial was attended by around 1,800 family members and guests. Only 30 people attended Philip’s burial, which was held under the tight COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in existence at the time, forcing the queen to sit alone in a black mask, mourning the loss of her husband, whom she referred to as her rock.
The queen did not attend the regular royal garden party season in 2022, which began after a three-year hiatus. The visitors, who had all served their communities in various ways, had already had the opportunity to talk with the queen and other members of the royal family at the parties. Other members of the royal family represented the queen.
Elizabeth was a staple in the life of the nation throughout the most of her reign and has been photographed riding a horse as recently as 2020. In the previous year, she was spotted for the first time using a walking stick at a big public event (a Westminster Abbey service commemorating the centenary of the Royal British Legion in October 2021), and she spent a night in a London hospital for undisclosed testing.
Following that, the queen’s doctors instructed her to rest, and she was obliged to forego appearances at several important events, including Remembrance Sunday services and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. The queen also skipped a Remembrance Sunday service in November 2021 to pay respect to Britain’s war dead due to a sprained back. The service is one of the most important events on the monarch’s calendar, and it was supposed to be her first public appearance after physicians ordered her to rest for a few weeks.
The queen, who served as an army driver and mechanic during WWII, is the leader of Britain’s armed forces. She values Remembrance Sunday, a solemn ritual commemorating the sacrifices made by deceased troops and women. The national service, which takes place after Armistice Day on November 11, is typically marked by the wearing of poppies and a nationwide two-minute silence at 11 a.m.
Despite her elderly age, the monarch gracefully declined the title of “Oldie of the Year” bestowed by a British magazine. The queen responded to the magazine’s recommendation that she follow in the footsteps of previous honorees such as actress Olivia de Havilland and artist David Hockney.
“Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel, as such The Queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept, and hopes you will find a more worthy recipient,” said her assistant private secretary, Tom Laing-Baker, in a letter.
“With Her Majesty’s warmest best wishes.” Liang-Baker concluded the letter.
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