Queen Elizabeth II, who this year celebrated 70 years of service as the reigning monarch of Great Britain, died Thursday at Balmoral in Scotland. She was 96.
The royals announced the news on Instagram, writing, "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," the statement continued, "The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow."
This week the Queen accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson and welcomed Liz Truss as the country's latest in a string of prime ministers in recent years. On Wednesday, she skipped an event to rest, and by Thursday, Buckingham Palace had said in a statement, "Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral."
News broke that her son, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla were rushing to Balmoral, along with Prince William. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are currently in Europe on a trip to promote charitable causes.
Earlier in 2022, the Palace had announced the Queen was canceling her virtual engagements for a day, having battled back from COVID-19, but reiterated she was experiencing only mild symptoms.
Elizabeth had since 2016 been the world's longest-serving monarch, and many years ago became England's longest-serving monarch, surpassing the 63-year reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Only Louis XIV of France, who served more than 72 years, was a sovereign monarch longer.
People magazine reported that Charles had issued a statement in this year marking his mother's 70th anniversary as Queen, saying, "On this historic day, my wife and I join you all in congratulating Her Majesty The Queen on the remarkable achievement of serving this nation, the Realms and Commonwealth for 70 years."
He went on, "The Queen's devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year."
Just a day before her anniversary, Queen Elizabeth had made public her "sincere wish" that Camilla have the title Queen Consort after Charles succeeds his mother in the future, an unthinkable development when she married Charles 17 years ago. Many British subjects carried a grudge for the adulterous relationship she carried on with Prince Charles — by his own admission — while he was still married to Princess Diana.
Charles reacted to his mother's wishes by saying, "We are deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother's wish. As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout."
The Queen was particularly nostalgic in recognizing her Platinum Jubilee, noting that the anniversary of her ascension is remembered by her "as much for the death of my father... as for the start of my reign."
She also said of her anniversary, her first since the death in 2021 of her husband Prince Philip, "I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me."
She signed the statement "your servant."
Now, Charles will take on the role his mother dutifully fulfilled for decades.
Elizabeth II was born in Mayfair, London, on April 21, 1926, the daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later known as the Queen Mother.
Her reign began after the death of her father on February 6, 1952. He had become king upon the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.
She was just 25, but had already performed public duties during WWII, including serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She had married Philip Mountbatten in 1947, who became known as Prince Philip upon her ascension. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died at 99 on April 9, 2021.
Her reign spanned a period of immense social change across the globe, including wars, the decolonization of Africa, unrest in Northern Ireland, and numerous world crises. Through it all, she remained an immensely popular figure, surviving perhaps a public low during the period following Princess Diana's death in 1997, when some blamed the monarchy for the late princess' unhappiness.
Upon the announcement of her passing, social media was flooded with remembrances and an outpouring of grief.