Queen Elizabeth II dies

95

Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King Charles III, as the world grieves his mother, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

All Her Majesty’s children had rushed to Balmoral today after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Hours later she died, surrounded by her family.

At 6.30pm her death was confirmed. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘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’.

The Queen’s death will see Britain and her Commonwealth realms enter into a ten-day period of mourning as millions of her subjects in the UK and abroad come to terms with her passing.

And as her son accedes to the throne, there will also be a celebration of her historic 70-year reign that saw her reach her Platinum Jubilee this year – a landmark unlikely to be reached again by a British monarch.

Charles, the King, said: ‘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.

‘We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.

‘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.’

Tributes are already pouring in for Her Majesty, to many the greatest Briton in history and undoubtedly the most famous woman on earth. To billions around the world she was the very face of Britishness.

To her subjects at home, Her Majesty was the nation’s anchor, holding firm no matter what storm she or her country was facing – from the uncertain aftermath of the Second World War to, more recently, the pandemic. She was also steadfast as she dealt with tragedies and scandals in her own family, most recently the fallout from Megxit and the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip.

Charles will embark on a tour of the UK before his mother’s funeral with his wife Camilla, who the Queen announced would be crowned her eldest son’s Queen Consort in an historic statement to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne on February 6.

The Queen’s passing came more than a year after that of her beloved husband Philip, her ‘strength and guide’, who died aged 99 in April 2021. Since his funeral, where she poignantly sat alone because of lockdown restrictions, her own health faltered, and she was forced to miss an increasing number of events mainly due to ‘mobility problems’ and tiredness.

In July she travelled to Scotland for her annual summer break, but cancelled her traditional welcome to Balmoral Castle in favour of a small more private event because of her health, believed to be linked to her ability to stand. And at the end of July, Prince Charles represented his mother and opened the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the Duchess of Cornwall. In late August Queen missed the Braemar Gathering – the first time she was not at the Highland Games in her 70-year reign.

But she was well enough to meet with Boris Johnson at Balmoral to accept his resignation, before asking the 15th Prime Minister of her reign, Liz Truss, to form a Government. Her Majesty, who stood with the support of a stick and smiled as she greeted Ms Truss in front of a roaring fire, had not been seen in public for two months. It would be her final picture.

Today all her children and Prince William flew into Scotland from all over the UK to get to Her Majesty’s bedside before she died. Prince Harry did not travel to Scotland from Windsor with his family – and Meghan Markle stayed at Frogmore Cottage. But he did not make it to Balmoral in time and landed in Aberdeen, around 15 minutes after the death of his grandmother.

Liz Truss stepped out of No 10 and to the podium on Downing Street at 7.07pm, dressed in black, to address the nation following the Queen’s death.

Ms Truss was appointed as Prime Minister by the Queen at Balmoral only two days ago.

She said: ‘We are all devastated by the news that we have just heard from Balmoral.

‘The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world.’

Liz Truss then revealed that the new King would be Charles III. There had been suggestions he might rule as King George VII, using one of his middle names.

She said: ‘It’s an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years. Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories.

‘In return she was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

‘She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons – her devotion to duty is an example to us all.’

Liz Truss said: ‘Earlier this week at 96, she remained determined to carry out her duties as she appointed me as her 15th Prime Minister.

‘Throughout her life she’s visited more than 100 countries and she’s touched the lives of millions around the world.

‘In the difficult days ahead we will come together with our friends across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world to celebrate her extraordinary lifetime of service.

‘It is a day of great loss but Queen Elizabeth II leaves a great legacy.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said his ‘prayers are with the King and the royal family’ as he mourns the death of the Queen, whose ‘steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are’.

‘As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society,’ Justin Welby said in a statement.

‘As we sustain one another in the face of this challenge, our shared grieving will also be a work of shared re-imagining. I pray that we commence this journey with a sense of Her late Majesty’s faith and confidence in the future.

‘In the late Queen’s life, we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share it as a gift to others.

‘The late Queen leaves behind a truly extraordinary legacy: one that is found in almost every corner of our national life, as well as the lives of so many nations around the world, and especially in the Commonwealth.

‘It was my great privilege to meet her late Majesty on many occasions. Her clarity of thinking, capacity for careful listening, inquiring mind, humour, remarkable memory and extraordinary kindness invariably left me conscious of the blessing that she has been to us all.’

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said the death of the Queen would leave a ‘void’ and ‘this is our country’s saddest day’.

‘As is so natural with human beings, it is only when we face the reality of our loss that we truly understand what has gone,’ he said.

‘It is only really now that we grasp how much she meant for us, how much she did for us, how much she loved us.

‘As we think of the void she leaves, we understand the vital role she played, selflessly and calmly embodying the continuity and unity of our country.

‘We think of her deep wisdom, and historic understanding, and her seemingly inexhaustible but understated sense of duty.

‘Relentless though her diary must have felt, she never once let it show, and to tens of thousands of events – great and small – she brought her smile and her warmth and her gentle humour – and for an unrivalled 70 years she spread that magic around her kingdom.

‘This is our country’s saddest day because she had a unique and simple power to make us happy. That is why we loved her.

‘That is why we grieve for Elizabeth the Great, the longest serving and in many ways the finest monarch in our history.’