Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died at the age of 96. The Queen passed away surrounded by her family at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands, which has long been her favorite royal home.
“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,” reads a statement shared by Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s death comes shortly after alarming news about her health. Early today, on September 8, 2022, Buckingham Palace released a rare statement regarding the Queen’s health. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” it read, noting that the Queen would remain at Balmoral, and had not been hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, all four of Queen Elizabeth’s children—Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward—traveled to Balmoral, as did the Duchess of Cornwall, Countess of Wessex, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Queen Elizabeth, who celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this year, has suffered from health issues over the past several months. She reportedly sprained her back in spring 2021, and missed the Remembrance Sunday service, and in October 2021, she spent the night in a hospital for the first time in years; at the time, Buckingham Palace would only say that the monarch was undergoing “preliminary investigations.”
The Queen contracted COVID-19 in February 2022; the Palace said that she was experiencing “mild, cold-like symptoms,” she later said that it left her “very tired and exhausted.” While Queen Elizabeth never stopped working, and continued to keep busy with a large number of appointments, events and visits (both virtual and in-person), she significantly scaled back on official engagements over the past few months, citing health and mobility concerns. She also began using a cane in public late last year.
On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth appointed Liz Truss as the U.K.’s new Prime Minister. During her historic reign, the Queen has seen 15 Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill. Truss tweeted her concern for the monarch on Thursday: “The whole country will be deeply concerned by the news from Buckingham Palace this lunchtime. My thoughts—and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom—are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time.”
Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, in London. She was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York; her younger sister, Princess Margaret, was born in August 1930. The then-Princess Elizabeth was not initially expected to become Queen; she became the presumptive heir to the throne in 1936, after her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated and her father became King George VI. Her mother, also named Elizabeth, was later known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
The then-Princess Elizabeth met her future husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1934. Their engagement was announced to the world in July 1947, when she was 21 years old. The two married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. The couple’s first child, Prince Charles, was born in November 1941, followed by Princess Anne in 1950.
After the death of her father, Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, followed by her official coronation in June 1953. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed their third child, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, in 1960, and their fourth child, Prince Edward, the Duke of Wessex, in 1964.
The Queen is predeceased by her husband, Prince Philip, who died on April 9, 2021 at the age of 99. The two were married for 73 years.
For most of her reign, Queen Elizabeth’s official residence was Buckingham Palace in London, and spent weekends at Windsor Castle, in Berkshire. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh relocated to Windsor Castle full-time in March 2020, amid the first COVID-19 lockdowns, and she decided to make it her permanent residence shortly thereafter.
Queen Elizabeth, who reigned for a historic 70 years, is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Upon her death, Queen Elizabeth’s 73-year-old son, Prince Charles, became King of England.