The world is in mourning at the announcement that Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96.
Her Majesty peacefully passed away at Balmoral with all her children at her side.
The announcement came via a short, 26-word statement released by Buckingham Palace.
“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,” it read.
The Queen’s death came just three months after Britain held four days of public celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.
All her children, including her oldest son, now King Charles, and several of her grandchildren were in Balmoral with her when she died.
Charles has released this official statement in which he is called His Majesty, The King: “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is 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 a 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.”
On Wednesday, the palace announced her doctors had ordered the Queen to rest just a day after she appointed the 15th British prime minister of her reign, Liz Truss.
Yesterday it was confirmed doctors were “concerned” for her health and she was put under medical supervision.
Over seven decades the 96-year-old saw it all – from the rise and fall of empires, new political leaders and the changes in her very own family. But the Queen always remained a constant, calming, omnipresent figure throughout history.
Queen Elizabeth’s early years
Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary to parents the Duke and Duchess of York, who would later become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (also known as the Queen Mother), on April 21st 1926, Queen Elizabeth enjoyed a privileged yet relatively normal childhood away from the spotlight.
Sweetly nicknamed “Lilibet” by her loved ones, Elizabeth shared a close bond with her only sibling and youngest sister, Princess Margaret.
A lover of the great outdoors, horses and dogs from an early age, the late Winston Churchill once described a then-two-year-old Elizabeth as “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.”
In 1936, her destiny would change forever after her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The scandalous decision meant Elizabeth’s father Albert, who was the heir presumptive to the throne, became the King and Elizabeth was fast-tracked to second in line of the British throne.
In order to prepare for the very unique path of one day being The Queen, Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were home-schooled by the best tutors money could buy.
Here, she was served up a diverse offering on everything from her future job description, constitutional history, French and maths.
Although she’s never technically sat an exam, Queen Elizabeth was said to be a bright spark and could clearly hold her own when consulting with world leaders.
“The Queen’s father had disliked school and her mother thought it was more important to have fun,” Professor Kate Williams, who penned the book Young Elizabeth, told Good Housekeeping.
Proving she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves, during World War II Elizabeth broke with royal protocol and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where she trained as a mechanic and driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945.
She traded in her royal title for “Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor” and excelled in her hands-on role. Still to this day, she is the only female royal to have entered the army and was the only remaining head of state to serve in World War II.
On 6th February 1952, Elizabeth’s father King George unexpectedly died while Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were on duty in Kenya.
The young royal quickly returned home as the 25-year-old Queen of England.
Her official coronation happened on June 2nd 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London, which was witnessed by millions around the world after it was the first historical event to be broadcast on television.
Her oldest son Prince Charles and husband Prince Philip were also in attendance, while Princess Anne, who was just two at the time, was too young to attend.
WATCH: The Queen gives a rare interview about her 1953 coronation in the documentary The Coronation. Post continues after the video…
Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip
Like something out of a movie, Elizabeth and Philip’s paths first crossed in 1934 at the wedding of Elizabeth’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark.
She was only eight at the time, he was 13 and it was love at first sight.
Three years later, they had another chance encounter and began to keep in touch by writing to each other while Philip was away in the military.
In rare letters that were auctioned in 2016, Elizabeth wrote about the struggles of long-distance lamenting: “I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave — I suppose about twice in three years.”
“Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor. Then he went to the Pacific and Far East for two years.”
They announced their engagement on July 10th, 1947 and Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten on November 20th 1947 at Westminster Abbey in London with the navy officer being styled the Duke of Edinburgh on the morning of their wedding.
WATCH: Queen Elizabeth’s heartfelt tribute to Prince Philip. Post continues after the video…
Showing the world she’d be a humble queen, the Princess required ration coupons to buy the material of her wedding dress.
Throughout her remarkable reign, Prince Philip was always a pillar of strength and support to his wife.
“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know,” Her Majesty once mused of her husband.
As for their secret to a successful marriage, the Duke revealed it was all about having “tolerance” and “different interests.”
When the Duke of Edinburgh passed away in April 2021, the couple had been married for 73 years.
Queen Elizabeth’s children
Queen Elizabeth is survived by her four children – Charles, Prince of Wales, 73, Anne, Princess Royal, 71, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, 62, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, 58.
She was the proud grandmother of Peter Phillips, 44, Zara Tindall, 41, Prince William, 40, Prince Harry, 37, Princess Beatrice, 33, Princess Eugenie, 32, Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and James, Viscount Severn, 14.
Dubbed Gan-Gan by Prince George, Queen Elizabeth was also an adoring great-grandmother to 12 royal tykes made up of Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips, Prince George, Mia Tindall, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Lena Tindall, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, August Brooksbank, Lucas Tindall, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Mountbatten-Windsor and Sienna Mapelli Mozzi.
The Royal Family on The Queen
Adored and revered by her loved ones, The Queen was the matriarch of the modern monarchy.
“From a personal point of view, I am privileged to witness the private side of the Queen, as a grandmother and a great-grandmother,” Prince William previously said of his grandmother.
Adding: “The Queen’s kindness and sense of humour, her innate sense of calm and perspective, and her love of family and home are all attributes I experience first-hand. All of us who will inherit the legacy of my grandmother’s reign and generation need to do all we can to celebrate and learn from her story. Speaking for myself, I am privileged to have the Queen as a model for a life of service to the public.”
While Prince Charles always applauded his mother’s incredible ability to balance family and duty.
“I remember my mama coming up when we were being bathed as children, wearing the crown [before her Coronation in 1953]. It was quite funny – practicing. My mama takes great pride in her family, from being a young mother at the start of her reign, to now being a great-grandmother twice over. The fact that my mama has been a constant feature on the scene has provided that sense, I think, of continuity in a time of immense change over 60 years,” the Prince of Wales has mused.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry has vouched to make his grandmother proud and honour her legacy.
“People have always said ‘Do you feel as if you’re following in her footsteps?’ Well that’s exactly what we are doing. There is nowhere on this planet that I can think of that she hasn’t been in the last 90 years. She’s been everywhere,” Harry once explained.
WATCH: Prince Harry on his grandmother The Queen. Post continues after the video…
Queen Elizabeth’s legacy
Perhaps one of the most iconic figures of the 21st century, Queen Elizabeth’s legacy will go down in the history books.
Praised for her devout sense of duty, Queen Elizabeth devoted her life to the United Kingdom and the countries of the Commonwealth.
Despite being well into her 90s, The Queen never slowed down her royal duties and in 2018 clocked up an impressive grand total of 283 events in the UK, though she stopped travelling overseas.
Whether she was hosting heads of state or meeting with every day people around the world, The Queen’s service to others was truly remarkable.
Before she turned 90 in 2016, The Queen was the patron to more than 600 charities and organisations which focused on wide-ranging issues from cancer research, the British Red Cross and Barnado’s.
“I think I speak for my generation when I say that the example and continuity provided by The Queen is not only very rare among leaders but a great source of pride and reassurance,” Prince Philip explained of his wife’s legacy.
In 2012, The Guardian conducted a study with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) which estimated the Queen was one of the greatest philanthropists of our time.
The study estimated the monarch had helped raise more than £$1.9 billion for charity during her reign.
“The Queen has set an amazing example when it comes to her charitable support making an enormous difference to millions of people up and down the country; doing more for charity in the last 60 years than probably any other monarch in history,” CAF chief executive John Low said.
“We want to promote a culture where supporting charities by giving time or money is the norm. The Queen’s work for charities of all types is an example to all of us.”
A fashion icon
The Queen was also celebrated for her timeless style and while she ruled with a stiff upper lip, when it came to her personal fashion choices, she couldn’t have been more colourful.
You would never catch the monarch rocking boring black… In fact, the brighter the hue the better!
Her go-to look was always an eye-catching bright dress, teamed with a bespoke hat, a classic pearl necklace, her trusty black handbag and a pair of crisp white gloves.
As her daughter-in-law Sophie of Wessex once revealed, the monarch was very strategic when it came to her ensembles.
“Don’t forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, ten, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen’s hat as she went past. She needs to stand out for people to be able to say ‘I saw the Queen,'” Sophie said of The Queen’s eye-catching looks.
Her most beloved milliner was Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who created bespoke hats for events like Royal Ascot, state meetings and royal birthdays.
Her personal dresser and the woman responsible for curating her wardrobe was Angela Kelly, who worked alongside The Queen from 2002 until her death.
Where will The Queen be buried?
When it comes to her final resting place, it’s understood the Queen will be buried at King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.
King George VI was the first monarch to be buried in the chapel and Elizabeth’s mother is also buried there. Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister and the first royal family member to be cremated, had her ashes buried there between her parents. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are also buried on the site.
Prince Phillip, who passed away in April 2021, was buried at the Royal Vault at St George’s Chapel but will likely be moved to be buried beside the Queen.
Prince Charles to become King
Now that The Queen has died, her son Prince Charles is immediately considered King of England (next in line after him is his son Prince William). His wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, will stand by her husband’s side as Queen Consort just like Prince Philip was Queen Elizabeth’s right-hand man for decades.
He was sworn in and officially proclaimed as King just days after her death, with Australia also accepting King Charles III as the nation’s new head of state.
As per royal tradition, Queen Elizabeth’s coffin — which will contain crown jewels sealed with a “false lid”— will be transported to the Buckingham Palace throne room.
And then finally, her funeral. The crown jewels that were in the coffin will be removed and cleaned, then the coffin will be brought to Westminster Abbey for prayer. She will lastly be transported by carriage to Windsor Castle and laid to rest in the royal vault inside.
Today, the world has lost a truly inspirational woman who will be missed by millions. Rest in peace, Your Majesty.