Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died on Thursday. She was 96 and was surrounded by her children and extended family at her retreat at Balmoral Castle near Aberdeen in Scotland.
Word of her ill-health emerged hours prior to her passing on Thursday when doctors publicly issued their concerns for her health in an unprecedented way.
Prince Charles, heir to the throne since just three years old, is now king, and will be officially proclaimed at St James’s Palace in London in due course.
Flags on landmark buildings in London and beyond were lowered to half mast as a period of official mourning was announced.
As Queen of the UK and 15 other realms, and head of the Commonwealth, Elizabeth II was easily the world’s most recognisable head of state during an extraordinarily long reign.
She ascended to the throne at the age of 25, she successfully steered the monarchy through decades of turbulent change.
Fifteen prime ministers served her. Her visit to Ireland in 2011 won her many admirers for her deft hand and light touch neutrality and her attempts at speaking a cupla focail with the then President Mary McAleese during a state banquet.
The recent outpouring of affection demonstrated on her silver, golden and diamond jubilees testified to the special place she held in the nation’s heart.
In her silver jubilee message in 1977, the Queen said: “When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people, and asked for God’s help to make that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.”
There will now be a 10-day period of mourning.
Details of her state funeral, accorded to monarchs, will be announced in due course, after being officially signed off by the king.
Tradition dictates that the framed formal announcement of her death is affixed to the railings at Buckingham Palace.
Ceremonial gun salutes will be fired as a mark of respect as royal residences open to the public will close.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022