Queen Elizabeth is dead — for real this time.
She was 96.
The Royal Family announced her passing, saying she died peacefully.
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. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
Earlier this year, the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, which commemorated a record-breaking 70 years on the throne. In a rare personal statement to mark the occasion of her accession, she said: “It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign.”
Celebrations began on Feb. 6, which is the day she officially acceded to the throne, and carried on into June, when she appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the first day of a long Jubilee weekend, with the British public getting an extra public holiday to celebrate.
However, the monarch did not attend subsequent Jubilee events, including a concert in her honor featuring Adam Lambert and Queen, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sir Elton John, after experiencing discomfort during the Trooping the Colour parade on the first day of the celebrations. She made a brief appearance on the Sunday at the conclusion of the festivities.
On 6 Sept., she officially appointed the U.K.’s latest Prime Minister, Liz Truss, in a ceremony at Balmoral. Traditionally a new Prime Minister is appointed at Buckingham Palace, in the capital, but the venue was changed due to the Queen’s “mobility problems,” the palace said in a statement. In photographs released of the event the Queen was shown using a walking stick but smiling as she shook Truss’s hand. The following day she was forced to cancel an audience with ministers after being advised to rest by her doctors.
The Queen, who acceded to the throne in 1952, was the world’s oldest reigning monarch. In 2015, she also became the longest-reigning British sovereign of all time, surpassing the previous record set by Queen Victoria.
She holds the record for the second-longest reigning monarch of all time after France’s Louis XIV, who was on the throne for 72 years.
During her reign, the Queen saw 15 British prime ministers serve under her, beginning with Winston Churchill, and met 13 of the last 14 U.S. presidents, from Harry S. Truman through to Joe Biden, as well as countless heads of state across the world. (The only U.S. president she did not meet was Lyndon Johnson.)
Princess Elizabeth was not expected to become a queen when she was born to the Duke and Duchess of York on April 21, 1926 in Mayfair, London. When her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 over his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth’s father was declared King George VI, moving the then 10-year-old princess into the direct line of succession. (Edward VIII’s abdication has been portrayed on screen in films including Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter, and in Madonna’s biopic of Wallis Simpson, “W.E.”)
In 1947 Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with whom she had four children: Charles, Prince of Wales and Anne, Princess Royal, were both born before she acceded to the throne, followed almost ten years later by Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, who were born while she was queen.
On Feb. 6, 1952, King George VI died suddenly at the age of 56 from a coronary thrombosis and Princess Elizabeth, then on a tour of Kenya, acceded to the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II. Her coronation in Westminster Abbey the following year was the first in British history to be televised.
While she continued to undertake her royal duties until the very end of her reign, in the last few years of her life she was restrained by her health, using a walking stick and occasionally, according to local reports, a wheelchair, although she was never seen publicly with the latter.
In February 2022, a statement from Buckingham Palace to royal reporters confirmed that the Queen had contracted COVID-19. “Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week,” said a statement from the palace. “She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.” However, she appeared to make a full recovery.
The Queen became a cultural staple during her long and eventful reign. She was the most photographed woman in history – gracing the cover of Time magazine at age three, the first of several such appearances – and was depicted on the big screen, the small screen, the stage, in music, and in art.