Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, has died at the age of 96.
She served for more than 70 years on the throne, and was Queen of Canada and 14 other countries. Her eldest son, Charles, has acceded to the throne as King Charles III.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral Thursday afternoon. The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London Friday.
In a statement, Charles said the death of his mother was “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”
“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. 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.”
The Queen had been under medical care at Balmoral Castle for several days although she did fulfill her duty on Tuesday by accepting the resignation of Boris Johnson as prime minister and appointing Liz Truss. It was the first time the Queen had been seen in public in weeks.
She cancelled a virtual meeting of the privy council on Wednesday and on Thursday palace officials said doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.”
There will be an elaborate funeral for the Queen and a series of ceremonies for the new monarch.
Her body will be moved by hearse to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. The following day the coffin will be placed in St. Giles’ Cathedral for a short service before making its way by train to Buckingham Palace in London.
The Queen will lie in state in the Parliament buildings’ Westminster Hall for three days, which will be followed by a funeral at Westminster Abbey. She will be interred in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle near her husband and parents.
Throughout that period, the new king will travel to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for special church services and to receive messages of condolences. He’ll also meet the Governors-General from Canada and other Commonwealth countries.
“We offer our deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Canadians across our country will mourn the loss of The Queen. Let us take a moment to honour Her Majesty’s memory in each of our own ways,” said Canada’s Governor-General Mary Simon.
The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, as Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. She was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. At the age of ten she became heir to the throne after her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated and her father, Albert, was crowned King George VI.
In 1947, she married her third cousin, 26-year old Prince Philip Mountbatten, at Westminster Abbey. He received the title Duke of Edinburgh on their wedding day. They remained married for 74 years.
Just five years later, on Feb. 6, 1952, Elizabeth acceded to the throne when her father, King George VI, drew his last breath at the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate.
Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya at the time filling in for George on an extended royal tour. They returned to Britain and the princess, then 25 years old, was proclaimed “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm and all Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
The Queen had become a beloved figure around the world and seemed to rise above the turmoil that often plagued the Royal Family. Her death will raise questions about the future of the monarchy in several countries.
Last year, Barbados dropped the Queen as head of state and officials in Jamaica have signalled that the country will follow suit. Since 1970, three other nations have become republics: Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica.
The Globe and Mail