Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, dies after a 70-year reign

Her Majesty the Queen at an aircraft-naming ceremony in 2014.

Zoë Hill | Print Editor-in-Chief

Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the English monarchy for seven decades, died Thursday afternoon, Buckingham Palace announced. She was 96.

Although no cause of death was specified, the palace’s announcement said the Queen “died peacefully” at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Balmoral Castle was the queen’s annual late-summer retreat, which she left England for in late July. 

Elizabeth had been placed under medical supervision by her doctors who were concerned for her health, the palace announced Thursday morning. Members of the royal family joined the queen at Balmoral Castle in the hours leading up to death. 

The queen’s eldest son Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, ascended to the throne immediately following the Queen’s death. At 73 years old, King Charles III was the longest-serving heir apparent in British history.

“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,” the king said in a statement. “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.”

The king’s second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, now serves as queen consort of the United Kingdom. Prince William, the King’s eldest son with his late wife Lady Diana Spencer, is now the heir apparent to the British throne.

The late queen was the longest-serving British monarch and has been Queen since her coronation in February of 1952. She is the second-longest serving monarch in world history, only behind French King Louis XIV who served from age four until his death in the early 18th century. 

A double rainbow shown over Buckingham Palace as people gathered near the gates to mourn Elizabeth, with hundreds of people laying flowers and paying their respects, the New York Times reported.

Messages of condolences from all corners of the world came in following the queen’s death. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden shared a statement Thursday afternoon paying their respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. 

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch,” the Bidens said. “She defined an era.”

“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” the statement went on to say. “She helped make our relationship special.”

Biden proclaimed shortly thereafter that flags be flown at half-staff at all U.S. public buildings, embassies, naval vessels, consular offices and military posts across the country and abroad until sunset of the queen’s internment day.  

“Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world,” the Bidens said.

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