The Royal Family has announced that Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned for more than 70 years on the throne has died at the age of 96. Her 73-year-old son, Prince Charles, has now become King Charles III.
His official coronation might not take place for months.
“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,” King Charles III said. “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.”
Her majesty died Thursday at her summer residence in Scotland, Balmoral Castle, where her loved ones rushed to her side after reports were released that her health was of deep concern.
Thousands of mourners flooded Buckingham Palace, crying, as the announcement of her passing was made.
Just two days before her death, the queen carried out her constitutional duty of appointing Liz Truss as the new prime minister. Using a cane, she exhibited the strength and loyalty to her country that she was known for when bringing the new leader aboard.
She leaves a legacy of poise, strength, elegance and loyalty that many may agree could never be matched.
According to the Associated Press, since Feb. 6, 1952, Elizabeth reigned over a Britain that rebuilt from war and lost its empire; joined the European Union and then left it; and transformed from industrial powerhouse to uncertain 21st century society. She endured through 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, becoming an institution and an icon — a fixed point and a reassuring presence even for those who ignored or loathed the monarchy.
She became less visible in her final years as age and frailty curtailed many public appearances. But she remained firmly in control of the monarchy and at the center of national life as Britain celebrated her Platinum Jubilee with days of parties and pageants in June 2022.
The same month she became the second longest-reigning monarch in history, behind 17th-century French King Louis XIV, who took the throne at age 4. On Sept. 6, 2022, she presided at a ceremony at Balmoral Castle to accept the resignation of Boris Johnson as prime minister and appoint Truss as his successor.
President Joe Biden released a statement which read, in part:
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era.
“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.
“She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection—whether they heard her on the radio as a young princess speaking to the children of the United Kingdom, or gathered around their televisions for her coronation, or watched her final Christmas speech or her Platinum Jubilee on their phones. And she, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service.
“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special.
“In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort. Today, the thoughts and prayers of people all across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief. We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are not only mourning their Queen, but their dear mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world.”
Former president George W. Bush released the following statement:
“Laura and I were honored to have known Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit. Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency. Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our world benefitted from her steady resolve, and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship. Laura and I join our fellow citizens in sending our heartfelt condolences to the Royal family and the British people.”
A long life, well-lived. May she rest in peace.