“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” reads a statement from the official website of the Royal Family, announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth II who died at 96 after reigning for 70 years. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
“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,” reads a statement from His Majesty King Charles III, at the time of The Queen’s death on Thursday, September 8, 2022. “I know her loss will be 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.”
Queen Elizabeth II (born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. Her reign of 70 years and seven months, which began on 6 February 1952, was the longest of any British monarch in history and the second-longest verified reign of any monarch.
Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). Her father acceded to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. She was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In November 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April 2021. They had four children together: Charles III; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
When her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth—then 25 years old—became queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), as well as Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonization of Africa, and the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union. The number of her realms varied over time as territories have gained independence and some realms have become republics. Her many historic visits and meetings include state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits to or from five popes.
Significant events include Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively. Elizabeth was the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, the oldest and longest-serving incumbent head of state, and the second-longest verifiable reigning sovereign monarch in world history, only behind Louis XIV of France. She faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism of her family, particularly after the breakdowns of her children’s marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992, and the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. However, support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained consistently high, as did her personal popularity.
Queen Elizabeth II is also known for her support of LGBTQ+ causes. She pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” She gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21. She gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. She has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.
Queen Elizabeth II is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Her eldest son King Charles III, 73, is her heir. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William is now second in line to the throne.