Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s second-longest reigning monarch, died Thursday on the age of 96.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the palace mentioned Thursday. “The King and The Queen Consort will stay at Balmoral this night and can return to London tomorrow.”
Elizabeth, who was Britain’s oldest monarch and served as queen for a report 70 years, is survived by her 4 youngsters, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her late husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died on April 9, 2021.
Elizabeth’s eldest son, Prince Charles, succeeds her as sovereign of the United Kingdom. As king, he additionally takes her titles Defender of the Religion and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William and his son, Prince George, are actually first and second to the throne, respectively.
The monarch additionally served as head of the Commonwealth, which consists of over 50 international locations, throughout her reign.
Although this position isn’t hereditary, Charles was approved as his mother’s successor by the group’s heads of presidency in April 2018. Elizabeth had informed the group it was her “sincere wish” for Charles to succeed her.
In December 2007, Elizabeth surpassed the report for longest-living U.K. monarch set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who died in 1901 at age 81. In September 2015, Elizabeth grew to become the longest-reigning British monarch. Victoria, the previous title-holder, had reigned for 63 years.
Elizabeth was the world’s second-longest reigning monarch after Louis XIV of France.
In February 2017, she celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, the primary British monarch to take action. That November, she grew to become the primary British monarch to rejoice a 70th wedding anniversary. She celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, which marks 70 years on the throne, on Feb. 6, 2022.
One of many most popular monarchs within the U.Ok.’s historical past, the queen was a globally acknowledged image of the British monarchy and its resilience in a altering world.
Elizabeth, nevertheless, wasn’t imagined to change into queen; the position was thrust upon her unexpectedly.
She was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in London on April 21, 1926, to the then-Prince Albert, Duke of York, and his spouse, Elizabeth, Duchess of York. The princess had been third in line to the throne when her uncle grew to become King Edward VIII in 1936, upon the dying of his father and Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V.
However Edward abdicated that 12 months ― in opposition to the recommendation of the British authorities and the Church of England ― so he might marry Wallis Simpson, an American who was divorced. Elizabeth’s father was unexpectedly topped King George VI as a consequence, and the course of her life and U.Ok. historical past was altered eternally.
In 1952, George, who’d battled sick well being for a number of years, died on the age of 56, and Elizabeth, who had no brothers, grew to become queen at age 25. She had married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark ― whom she met when she was 13 years old ― lower than 5 years earlier. The couple had two younger youngsters on the time.
Her coronation at London’s Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, was televised for the primary time within the ceremony’s 900-year history. The choice initially enraged some senior officials, together with Winston Churchill, who was then prime minister.
Churchill believed televising the event live might diminish the monarchy. However Elizabeth agreed to do it in order that “as many people as possible could observe the ceremony.” She is quoted as telling Churchill that each one her topics “ought to have a possibility of seeing it.”
An estimated 27 million people in Britain (about three-quarters of the inhabitants on the time) ended up watching the occasion on TV. Tens of millions of others listened to the ceremony on the radio.
Elizabeth confirmed loyalty to the establishment of the monarchy and kept up with old rituals and traditions, however she was additionally a quiet reformer and modernizer. She made traditional events and royal grounds extra accessible to the general public, and hosted dinners at Buckingham Palace, the place she blended with folks of all backgrounds, together with businesspeople, charity staff, athletes and artists.
Nonetheless, the queen remained an enigmatic determine who stored her feelings and private emotions non-public. Elizabeth hardly ever made her opinions on political or private points publicly identified. And he or she by no means gave a press interview ― although she twice agreed to be filmed for documentaries.
The primary movie caused a stir when it screened in 1969, as nobody had seen such intimate footage of the royals earlier than. Buckingham Palace completely withdrew the movie from full public viewing later that 12 months, involved that it made the household appear too abnormal, although the movie sometimes surfaces on YouTube.
In 2016, Elizabeth agreed to be a part of a BBC movie marking her 90th birthday.
The queen maintained the stoic composure that was the hallmark of her public persona, even in her darkest hour. In 1992, a interval she described as her “annus horribilis,” or “disastrous 12 months,” Elizabeth’s eldest sons, Princes Charles and Andrew, every separated from their wives; her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced; and a fire devastated Windsor Castle. “1992 isn’t a 12 months on which I shall look again with undiluted pleasure,” she said in a speech that November.
5 years later, the death of Charles’ former spouse Diana, Princess of Wales, threatened the existence of the monarchy itself. Critics accused Elizabeth of being aloof and remaining in her Scottish citadel as an alternative of responding to the outpouring of grief that swept the U.Ok., as floral tributes to Diana crammed streets close to London’s royal palaces.
Tony Blair, then prime minister, was involved the royal household was “out of contact” with public opinion, and persuaded the queen to journey again to London. She returned days later and acknowledged the sorrow of each the general public and her family in a televised broadcast that eased tensions. “She acquired the steadiness between exhibiting emotion and retaining the respect and dignity of the of the monarchy,” Blair later told the broadcaster ITV of the speech.
Throughout her reign, Elizabeth conferred hundreds of thousands of honors and awards, and although her position was principally ceremonial, she was politically engaged. She’d pore over official paperwork and stored abreast with present affairs every day, and met privately with the prime minister of the day to have an intimate, confidential chat each week. Although the content material of those conferences is basically unknown, the queen is believed to have acted as each confidant and adviser to those leaders.
Elizabeth additionally performed an vital diplomatic position, and was reportedly the most well-traveled monarch in history, together with her diplomatic efforts taking her all around the world.
Amongst her most memorable, and profitable, conferences was her 2011 state journey to Eire. It was the first visit to Ireland by a British monarch in 100 years, and was seen as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation between the 2 international locations. The queen’s present of goodwill, and her “phrases and bearing” throughout her go to, had been “virtually universally praised” by each Irish politicians and most of the people, The Guardian reported on the time.
Although she was identified for being dutiful, the queen sometimes confirmed glimpses of a extra daring side, like when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited her Balmoral property in Scotland in 1998. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the previous British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, recounted in his memoir how Elizabeth had requested the then-crown prince if he’d like a tour of the property. He agreed and shortly discovered himself within the passenger seat of a Land Rover.
“To his shock, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Ladies usually are not — but — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being pushed by a girl, not to mention a queen.”
Displaying an excellent willingness to advertise interfaith concord, Elizabeth, the pinnacle of the Anglican Church, met with 5 pontiffs, together with Pope Francis, throughout her reign. The queen additionally met with a bunch of world leaders at house and overseas, together with U.S. President Donald Trump, South African President Nelson Mandela, Soviet chief Nikita Khrushchev and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu ― a go to that the queen reportedly described because the “worst three days of her life.”
“I feel what the queen symbolizes, not simply to Nice Britain, however to your complete Commonwealth and clearly your complete world, is one of the best of England,” Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, told the BBC in 2011. Obama, who made state visits to Buckingham Palace in 2009 and Windsor Castle in 2016, mentioned the monarch was a “charming” and “gracious” host.
A British anti-monarchy group referred to as Republic has been calling for the tip of the royal household’s reign for years. “Basically, the monarchy is corrupt,” Graham Smith, the group’s chief government, told The Guardian in 2018.
On the opposite facet of the world, Australians have frequently mulled whether or not their authorities ought to change into a republic or stay a part of the monarchy. Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly suggested holding a plebiscite searching for voters’ opinions on this matter upon Elizabeth’s dying.
Elizabeth additionally got here below scrutiny for her dealing with of a intercourse abuse scandal involving her son Prince Andrew.
Virginia Giuffre has mentioned that she was trafficked by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and that he pressured her to have intercourse with Andrew in 2001, when she was an adolescent. Andrew vigorously denied the accusations and in 2019 gave a disastrous BBC interview wherein he failed to specific sympathy for Epstein’s victims and even censure the late convicted intercourse offender’s actions. Amid widespread backlash to the interview, the Duke of York introduced he was stepping back from public duties “for the foreseeable future.”
Following the interview, which Elizabeth had reportedly allowed, the queen’s judgment was criticized when she was pictured horseback riding with Andrew, in an obvious present of assist, days after he introduced he was stepping again. Just a few weeks later, Andrew attended the queen’s annual Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace and went to Christmas Day church services along with his brother, Prince Charles.
“Many individuals’s judgment has been referred to as into query over this, not least the queen for permitting the interview to happen,” royal commentator Peter Hunt told CNN, including that Andrew’s conduct had “broken the royal household.”
Andrew’s authorized troubles didn’t finish there. In August 2021, Giuffre sued Andrew in Manhattan, citing trafficking and sexual assault allegations stemming from when she was 17. The Duke of York’s conduct was as soon as once more tied to the queen, as he was pictured hiding out at his mom’s property in order to escape process servers. Giuffre and Andrew ultimately reached an out-of-court settlement in February 2022.
The queen’s ultimate years had been additionally marked by private loss and household upheaval, in addition to the problem of serving to information the U.Ok. by way of the onset of COVID-19. In April 2020, Elizabeth was praised for her skill to reassure and unify folks after she delivered a moving, emotional speech amid the uncertainty and dislocation of the pandemic. It was solely the fifth time she had given a particular tackle to the nation.
“We must always take consolation that whereas now we have extra nonetheless to endure, higher days will return,” she mentioned in these remarks. “We will probably be with our associates once more; we will probably be with our households once more; we’ll meet once more.”
It was a interval thought to be one other “annus horribilis” for the queen, partially as a result of her grandson Prince Harry and his spouse, Meghan Markle, declared in January 2020 that they were stepping back as working senior members of the royal family to pursue monetary freedom and a transfer to North America.
In March 2021, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that a member of the royal family had expressed racist concerns earlier than their son, Archie, was born, amongst different extraordinary revelations.
The queen subsequently issued a statement by way of Buckingham Palace saying: “The entire household is saddened to study the complete extent of how difficult the previous few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The problems raised, significantly that of race, are regarding. Whereas some recollections might fluctuate, they’re taken very significantly and will probably be addressed by the household privately.”
And shortly after Harry and Meghan’s interview aired, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and the queen’s beloved consort and husband of 73 years, died on April 9 on the age of 99. A picture of Elizabeth sitting alone at the funeral, which was held at a comparatively small scale in accordance with COVID-19 regulations, was seen as one of the crucial poignant moments of the day, and have become a logo of the loneliness and grief of shedding a liked one through the coronavirus pandemic.
The queen as soon as described the duke as her “energy and keep” in a speech celebrating the couple’s golden wedding anniversary, which marked their 50 years collectively.
“He’s somebody who doesn’t take simply to compliments, however he has, fairly merely, been my energy and keep all these years, and I, and his entire household, and this and lots of different international locations, owe him a debt larger than he would ever declare, or we will ever know,” Elizabeth mentioned on Nov. 20, 1997.
For her personal half, the queen remained a broadly beloved chief all over the ultimate years of her life. In 2012, the 12 months of her Diamond Jubilee ― or sixtieth 12 months as queen ― and when London hosted the Olympic Video games, Elizabeth had an approval rating in the U.K. of 90%, which was mentioned to be an all-time excessive. In February 2017, across the time of her Sapphire Jubilee (or sixty fifth 12 months), she nonetheless reigned with an approval score of about 80%.
In 1947, as a 21-year-old princess, Elizabeth delivered a speech to the Commonwealth wherein she vowed that her “entire life, whether or not or not it’s lengthy or quick, shall be dedicated to your service and the service of our nice imperial household to which all of us belong.” She remained true to this promise till the tip, refusing to abdicate at the same time as different monarchs in Europe selected to take action.
Even in her late 80s and into her 90s, the queen, who grew to become identified for her monochromatic outfits, maintained an lively schedule and was a patron of tons of of charities and organizations, although in later years she started to pass on some of her patronages to different royals to “ease her workload.” She continued to attract huge crowds wherever she went.
“Once you’re within the presence of the queen, you’re keyed up,” British historian Robert Lacey mentioned within the 2012 BBC documentary “The Diamond Queen.” “You wish to be your finest. You need the event to be one thing you may speak to all people about afterwards.”
“That in fact is the magic of what she is wherever she goes,” Lacey mentioned. “The actual human change that occurs there’s not a facsimile, and it’s not drummed up by the press. It’s one thing about one of the best of us.”
Rebecca Falconer contributed reporting.