The longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on Thursday at the age of 96. The royal family stated, “The Queen passed away quietly at Balmoral this afternoon.” The King and the Queen Consort will spend this evening and tomorrow in Balmoral before flying back to London.
In a statement, King Charles III, previously Prince Charles, described his mother's departure as a “time of tremendous sadness.”
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Early on Thursday, the royal family declared that the Queen had been placed under “medical supervision” because doctors were “concerned” about her health. Princes Harry, William, Charles, Andrew, and others responded by flying to Balmoral in Scotland to be by the monarch's bedside.
But Meghan Markle opted not to accompany the Duke of Sussex to the royal family.
Following the death of her father, George VI, in 1952, the Queen went on to reign the Commonwealth for more than 70 years. She is survived by four daughters, eight grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
Elizabeth was famous for her stiff upper lip, her colorful uniform (which she reportedly said she wore because “nobody will know who I am” in beige), and her love of horses and Corgis. She was raised to prioritize duty and family above all else.
The author of “Queen of Our Times” told in April 2022, “She's not like Queen Victoria, who was very concerned about her legacy forever, unveiling statues of herself and creating monuments. The queen wouldn't do it that way. Sort of just get the job done and step aside.
The eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York at the time, Queen Elizabeth II was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926. Elizabeth, who was raised by family and friends who called her “Lilibet,” was third in line to the throne after her father George and uncle Edward.
At a family wedding in 1934, Elizabeth had a fleeting encounter with Philip Mountbatten, the third cousin and future husband. In 1939, they crossed paths once more while visiting Dartmouth's Britannia Royal Naval College with their families.
When Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were 13 years old at the time, the former prince of Greece and Denmark, who was 18 at the time, was assigned the role of their guide.
According to royal historian Christopher Warwick, “It's a very symbiotic relationship and a very firm alliance, starting out, of course, with these early meetings and communication — which became a friendship, which became attachment, which became love.”
In 1947, Philip made an engagement to Elizabeth, then 21. On November 20 of the same year, the couple exchanged vows in front of 2,000 guests at Westminster Abbey. Prince Charles, their eldest child and the heir to the British throne, was born in November 1948, almost a year later. Princess Anne, their daughter, was born in August 1950.
King George VI, Elizabeth's father, passed away on February 6, 1952, at the age of 56. Elizabeth, who was 25 at the time and living in Kenya, took the throne. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Philip and Elizabeth's next two sons, were born in 1960 and 1964, respectively.
The Queen was frequently criticized for being distant from her children during her life, particularly through the lens of contemporary culture, but she was “very, very mindful that her function, her job lays expectations on the family.”
Prince William and Prince Harry, two sons Charles and Diana had together, were legally divorced in August 1996. But tragedy struck once more a year later, in August 1997, when the People's Princess, 36, was murdered in a vehicle accident in Paris when the Queen and her family were vacationing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
The Queen persevered through a time of enormous upheaval to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in February 2002, marking her 50th year as monarch. Princess Margaret, who was her sister, passed away in the same month at the age of 71. Their mother, who was 101 at the time, died in March.
When the heir apparent ‘s eldest son, William, wed Kate Middleton in April 2011, joy entered the Queen's life once more. Prince George was born in July 2013, Princess Charlotte was born in May 2015, and Prince Louis was born in April 2018. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have three children in all.
In September 2015, the Queen became the British monarch with the longest reign. Three months after Philip's retirement from public service, in November 2017, the Queen became the first to commemorate their platinum wedding anniversary.
While this was going on, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, whom he married in May 2018, resigned from their positions as senior royals and moved to the United States in early 2020.
The Queen endured a number of health problems over the years, including COVID-19 in February 2022 while residing at Windsor Castle, where she moved during the pandemic and spent her final years, and surgery on both knees in January 2003.
Elizabeth became the first British monarch to rule as a widow or widower since Victoria after her husband of 73 years, Philip, passed away in April 2021 at the age of 99.
In her 2021 Christmas broadcast, she said, “In the months following the passing of my beloved Philip, I have derived much consolation from the warmth and affection of the numerous tributes to his life and work – from around the country, the Commonwealth, and the world.
During her Platinum Jubilee, which took place in February 2022, the Queen celebrated a final major life event and shockingly revealed that Camilla would henceforth be referred to as “Queen Consort” rather than the previously intended “Princess Consort.”
She continued, “I know you will give him and his wife, Camilla, the same support that you have given me when, in due time, my son Charles becomes King.