Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace has announced. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
Her eldest son, Charles, now known as King Charles III, succeeds as king immediately, according to centuries of protocol, beginning a new, less certain chapter for the royal family after the queen’s record-breaking 70-year reign. Britain’s new king released the following statement after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.The flag at Buckingham Palace was lowered to half mast at 6.30pm UK time. People among the crowd gathered outside the gates began crying and taking pictures as a single helicopter circled the skies above.
The Queen’s death has plunged the country into mourning and marks a watershed moment in the life of the nation, drawing to a close a reign that spanned 70 years. Senior members of the royal family had travelled to be with her at Balmoral, the Queen’s castle in the Scottish highlands, while at Westminster the mood among senior politicians was sombre. The country was braced for the death of the monarch on Wednesday morning when Buckingham Palace issued a rare medical bulletin on the Queen’s health. The Queen had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace has called “episodic mobility problems” since the end of last year, forcing her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements.
The Queen had been a central part of life in the UK for seven decades, since the death of her father George VI in 1952. She became the longest-serving monarch in British history in 2015, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.