It’s the end of a seven-decade era. Queen Elizabeth II is dead at the age of 96 after serving Great Britain and its Commonwealth as its sovereign since 1952. A nation and the world are now in mourning at the loss of the beloved monarch.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the official Twitter account of the royal family wrote on Thursday, September 8. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
The queen lived a long and healthy life, as her own mother, Elizabeth, lived to be 101. But the sad passing of the monarch’s husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, in April 2021 at the age of 99 took a toll on the queen. The Duke of Edinburgh had been a steadfast presence by her side for her entire time on the British throne and was the leader when it came to their personal affairs involving their family.
There were signs that the monarch’s health was declining when in October 2021, she used a walking stick for the first time during an engagement. Then the queen “reluctantly” agreed to cancel a two-day trip to Northern Ireland scheduled for October 20 and 21, when she instead rested at Windsor Castle.
“Her Majesty is in good spirits and is disappointed that she will no longer be able to visit Northern Ireland, where she had been due to undertake a series of engagements today and tomorrow,” a statement from Buckingham Palace read at the time, adding, “The Queen sends her warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland, and looks forward to visiting in the future.” She had planned to attend upcoming events, including the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland in early November 2021.
In June 2022, the queen was able to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee in honor of her 70 years on the throne but missed several events after she experienced “discomfort” during the Trooping the Colour parade.
Queen Elizabeth was Great Britain’s longest reigning monarch, ascending to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25 upon the death of her father, King George VI. She and Philip were on a visit to Kenya upon getting the news, and the new young queen read a proclamation where she said, “By the sudden death of my dear father I am called to assume the duties and responsibilities of sovereignty. My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than I shall always work, as my father did throughout his reign, to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples.” She did that for a total of 70 years.
With the Queen’s passing, her eldest son, Prince Charles, now ascends to the British throne. His son, Prince William will now become the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, a title once held by William’s late mother, Princess Diana.
The Queen’s funeral will take place at a yet to be announced date at Westminster Abbey, where there will be a national two-minute silence on the day at midday. Her Majesty will later be buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor.