Queen Elizabeth II, UK’s longest-reigning monarch, dies at 96

Queen Elizabeth II, England’s longest-serving monarch who has reigned as a beloved figure around the world for decades, has died at 96.

Coronated in June 1953, Elizabeth II has been the only monarch most Britons have ever known in their lifetimes. Her passing truly represents the end of an era: Elizabeth has seen the nation through seven decades of history, serving as a beacon of stability during turbulent times, all the way back to World War II.

The historic news was announced by the Royal Family this afternoon, who wrote that she “died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.”

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Her death follows reports from this morning about the Queen’s failing health. In a palace statement, doctors said they were “concerned” about her health.

The Queen was at Balmoral — the royal family’s estate in the Scottish Highlands — and members of the family rushed to be by their side.

Funeral plans have not been officially announced, but plans have been meticulously set for years. The Queen will certainly receive an unprecedented send-off, and will be widely mourned throughout the world.

Elizabeth’s death not only marks the passing of a beloved public figure but a major turning point in modern British history. Her son, Charles, is next in line for the throne, and her death marks his accession to King of England — the first new English monarch in 70 years.

A historic reign
It is hard to overstate the importance of Elizabeth II, both in the UK and on the world stage. During her 70-year-reign, she was arguably the most famous woman in the world.

It is also difficult to overstate how much history she embodied in her nearly century of life: she was England’s figurehead through nearly all of the nations major moments of the 20th and 21st centuries, from WWII to Brexit.

She was the longest-living and longest-reigning monarch in British history, and at the time of her death was the world’s oldest and longest-serving head of state.

She held meetings with 15 different prime ministers, from Winston Churchill all the way to the newly-anointed Liz Truss.

Born April 21, 1926, Elizabeth was unexpectedly put into the line of succession after the abdication of King Edward VIII, when her father King George IV acceded to the throne in 1936.

World War II broke out in Europe when she was just 13, and throughout her teen years Elizabeth made her first public broadcasts and visits, championing the war effort.

When her father died in 1952, Elizabeth, then just 25, became Queen. Her coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised, and drew unprecedented public attention.

During her 70-year reign, she was a beacon of stability through turbulent times and numerous world conflicts, and significant geopolitical shifts in the United Kingdom, from decolonization to England’s exit from the EU.

Elizabeth also maintained a positive public image throughout her life, even as the personal dramas of other members of the royal family became tabloid fodder — most famously the turbulent marriage of Charles and Diana, Princes of Wales.

Elizabeth was married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, until his death in 2021 at the age of 99.

Outpouring of grief
Since news of Elizabeth’s passing, countless England residents have been expressing public grief. Crowds of mourners have gathered around Buckingham Palace.

Additionally public figures around the world have expressed their condolences.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era,” wrote US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in a White House statement.

“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.”

“This is our country’s saddest day,” recently-ousted PM Boris Johnson said in a statement on Twitter. “In the hearts of every one of us there is an ache at the passing of our Queen, a deep and personal sense of loss — far more intense, perhaps, than we expected.”

It is with deep sadness that we learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the [Ukrainian] people, we extend sincere condolences to the @RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss,” wrote Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Rest in peace, Queen Elizabeth II. Truly a worldwide icon and part of history.

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