LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after reigning for 70 years. She was 96.
Her death brings to an end the longest reign in the history of the United Kingdom, and one of the longest reigns by any head of state.
Her family had been gathering at her Scottish estate in Aberdeenshire after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday. The UK now has a new monarch in Charles, the former Prince of Wales.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
“The King and the Queen Consort [Charles and Camilla] will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow [Friday],” the statement 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,” Charles, the new King, said in a statement released by the Royal Family.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother,” Charles, 73, said.
“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,” he said.
Newly-appointed British Prime Minister Liz Truss said “we are all devastated” at the news of the Queen’s death, which is a “huge shock to the nation and the world”.
She described the Queen as “a rock on which modern Britain was built”, adding: “Britain is the great country it is today because of her.” She said the Queen was a personal inspiration to her as well as many Britons.
“Her devotion to duty is an example to us all,” Truss, who had an audience with the Queen on Tuesday, said in a statement outside 10 Downing Street.
The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.
With her death, her eldest son and heir Charles will lead the country in mourning as the new King and Head of State for 14 Commonwealth realms. Charles and the Queen’s close family members travelled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision.
Her grandson, Prince William, is also there, with his brother, Prince Harry, on his way.
The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was already by her side at the Scottish castle and her other children – Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – joined later. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who were in London for a charity event, also rushed to Harry’s grandmother’s summer residence.
William’s wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has remained in Windsor as their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – started their first full day at a new school there earlier on Thursday.
The monarch has been suffering from age-related mobility issues and had cut down her travels, including appointing new Prime Minister Liz Truss in Scotland earlier this week.
Leading the monarchy from the final years of the British Empire into the age of social media, she became one of the world’s most recognised and respected figures, the BBC commented.
Elizabeth II became Queen on the death of her father King George VI on 6 February 1952. She held her coronation at Westminster Abbey the following year.
Her reign of 70 years was seven years longer than that of Queen Victoria. — (PTI)