Queen dies aged 96: King Charles pays tribute as nation mourns

·5 min read
Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022. (Getty)
Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022. (Getty)

The nation is in mourning after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest serving monarch, died at the age of 96.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “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.”

Her eldest son Charles is now King.

He released a statement shortly after the death of his mother, saying: “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.”

Clarence House confirmed Charles will now be known as King Charles III. William and Catherine will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.

Members of the public gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London, following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Thursday September 8, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A thousands-strong crowd huddled under umbrellas. Getty Images)

As the nation began to come to terms with the news, crowds appeared outside Buckingham Palace. As night fell on Thursday, hundreds of colourful bouquets and rows of flickering candles brightened the gates.

A thousands-strong crowd huddled under umbrellas and tearfully consoling one another.

Further back, others sporadically broke out into the national anthem and rounds of applause.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, reacts as he attends a roundtable for the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation seminar to discuss allergies and the environment, at Dumfries House, Cumnock, Scotland, on September 7, 2022. (Photo by Jane Barlow / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JANE BARLOW/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen's eldest son becomes King Charles III following the death of his mother (Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: The Union flag flies half mast as people gather at Buckingham Palace on September 08, 2022 in London, England. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and acceded the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI.Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is survived by her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke Of York and Edward, Duke of Wessex. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Union flag flies at half mast as people gather at Buckingham Palace after the death of the Queen. (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Earlier on Thursday, in a rare update on her health, the palace revealed doctors had been "concerned" and recommended the Queen remain under medical supervision.

Charles and the Queen's three other children then travelled to Scotland to be by her side. The Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge also travelled to Balmoral Castle.

The Queen last appeared in public earlier in the week when as she appointed Liz Truss as prime minister.

Police officers stand amongst floral tributes left outside Buckingham Palace in central London, following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers stand amongst floral tributes outside Buckingham Palace. (Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 08: Rainbow appears over Buckingham Palace shortly before the Queenâs death announced in London, United Kingdom on September 08, 2022. Buckingham Palace has announced today that Queen Elizabeth II has died peacefully at Balmoral at the age of 96. (Photo by Zuhal Demirci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace shortly before the Queen's death was announced. (Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Crowds gather on the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace following the death today of Queen Elizabeth II in Balmoral, on September 8, 2022 in London, England.  Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and acceded the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is survived by her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke Of York and Edward, Duke of Wessex. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Crowds gathered on the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral, Scotland, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Picture date: Tuesday September 6, 2022.
The Queen pictured 48 hours before her death as she invited Liz Truss to become PM and form a new government. (PA)

Truss, dressed in black, addressed the nation outside No 10 following the news of the Queen's death. the PM had been informed of her passing at around 4.30pm.

She said: “We are all devastated by the news that we have just heard from Balmoral.

“The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world.

“It’s an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years. Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers a speech outside 10 Downing Street after Queen Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and the nation's figurehead for seven decades, has died aged 96, according to Buckingham Palace, in Downing Street in London, Britain September 8, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Liz Truss delivered a short tribute outside 10 Downing Street after the Queen, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, died aged 96. (Reuters)

“In return she was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

“She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons – her devotion to duty is an example to us all.”

World leaders also shared tributes, including US President Joe Biden, who described that Queen as "more than a monarch".

French President Emmanuel Macron called her "a friend of France" and "a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.”

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (5L), reacts after posing for a family photograph with, from left, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during an evening reception at The Eden Project in south west England on June 11, 2021. - G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States meet this weekend for the first time in nearly two years, for three-day talks in Carbis Bay, Cornwall. (Photo by JACK HILL / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JACK HILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
World leaders have paid tribute to the Queen following her death. Emmanuel Macron described her as a "friend to France". (Getty Images)

Her death brings an end to a life of service and dedication to the Crown, after seven decades as the nation's figurehead.

For the vast majority of people in Britain, she has been the only monarch they have known in their lifetimes.

In June 2022 the Queen celebrated 70 years on the throne, making her the longest serving monarch in British history and the second longest serving in the world.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony during the Platinum Pageant, marking the end of the celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, in London, Britain, June 5, 2022. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
The Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022 after 70 years on the throne. (Reuters)

In a speech to mark her 21st birthday in 1947, Elizabeth vowed to dedicate her life to the Commonwealth. She said: "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

Watch: Remembering the late Queen Elizabeth II

It was a promise she would keep for the next 75 years – 70 of which would be spent on the throne.

When she was born in London, then known as Princess Elizabeth of York, the prospect of becoming Queen was only a distant possibility.

As the daughter of the then King George V's second son, she was always destined to live a privileged life, though not much in the public eye.

When her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in December 1936 her father was thrust onto the throne – making her heir at the age of just 10.

In public, the Queen remained a calming presence for her reign, staying steadfast throughout wars, political upheaval and social unrest.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 05: Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Pageant on The Mall on June 5, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The Queen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022. (UK Press via Getty Images)

During her reign, the Queen oversaw 15 prime ministers, offering impartial advice and a level of consistency during even the most turbulent times.

In private, she was known as "Lilibet" to her closest family and her friends

The loss of her husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic was described by the Queen herself as leaving a "huge void" in her life, but she kept up with royal work after a period of mourning.

In recent times, she had increasingly stepped back from royal duties amid issues with mobility – although she did make several public appearances during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Her appointment of Truss as prime minister at Balmoral on Tuesday marked the first time an audience had been held with a new PM there and not at Buckingham Palace.