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UK Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II was Britian's longest-serving monarch, having become queen in 1952Image: Eddie Mulholland/REUTERS
SocietyUnited Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth II dies at her Balmoral residence

September 8, 2022

News of the 96-year-old monarch's death comes hours after it was announced she was under medical supervision. Her son is now known as King Charles III.

https://p.dw.com/p/4GZke
  • Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96 after a brief period under medical supervision
  • Her son will be known as King Charles III, keeping his given name as monarch
  • Family had rushed to her side at Balmoral Castle
  • Although Charles' coronation will take some time, technically he is already king

This live updates article has now been closed. For more on the world's reaction, click here

The UK's Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96 at her Balmoral residence in Scotland.

"The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," Buckingham Palace announced at 6:30 p.m. local time in the UK. 

Britain's longest-serving monarch was taken ill earlier on Thursday, having canceled an appointment with the Privy Council on Wednesday. 

Her family members that were not already present in Balmoral rushed to the scene. 

Buckingham Palace's statement said that her heir, Prince Charles, now King Charles III, and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, would remain at Balmoral and would return to London in the morning. 

Neighboring leaders mourn Queen Elizabeth's passing

French President Emmanuel Macron called the Queen "a friend of France" who "embodied the British nation's continuity for over 70 years."

Condolences also came from Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin. "On behalf of the Government of Ireland, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to the British people on the loss of their beloved monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth," he said.

"Her State Visit to Ireland in 2011 marked a crucial step in the normalization of relations with our nearest neighbor," the prime minister added.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen offered her "heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the British people."

"Once called Elizabeth the Steadfast, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment," European Council President Charles Michel said.

Queen remembered as head of state of Canada, Australia and New Zealand

At her death, the queen was head of state not just of the United Kingdom but 14 other former British colonies, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined world leaders offering condolences to the British Royal Family.

"She was our queen for almost half of Canada's existence and she had an obvious deep and abiding love and affection for Canadians," Trudeau, dressed in a dark suit, said.

"She was one of my favorite people in the world, and I will miss her so," he added.

Another of her Prime Ministers, Australia's Anthony Albanese said it was clear she "held a special place in her heart for Australia."

After her first visit there were "fifteen more tours before cheering crowds in every part of our country confirmed the special place she held in ours," he added.

Her death will be recognized in New Zealand with a national period of mourning.

“The Queen was a much loved and admired monarch, whose record reign of 70 years is an absolute testament to her, and her commitment to us all. She was extraordinary," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Sporting events postponed as mark of respect

Planned football matches, gold events and horse races, among others, were called off on Thursday and Friday following the news of the Queen's death.

The Premier League said it was "deeply saddened" by the news but did not say whether games would be postponed. The English Football League — the three divisions below the Premier League — called off all matches planned for Friday evening.

Rugby matches were also called off from Thursday until after the weekend. The cricket test match between England and South Africa was postponed. And the PGA Championship golf event stopped on Thursday upon the announcement of the Queen's passing.

Several football matches involving British teams went ahead on Thursday, but with a minute's silence and some teams wearing black armbands.

Pope Francis prays for Queen's 'eternal rest'

Among those offering their condolences was Pope Francis who told King Charles III of his deep sadness in a telegram.

"I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen's eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth," the pope said in his message.

The Queen first visited the Vatican while a princess in 1951. The first pontiff she met at the Vatican as queen was John XXIII, in 1961 and she would go on to see six more elected.

What happens next?

The UK has planned for the passing of the monarch for years, but it's a procedure the country has not experienced in seven decades. 

Never heard of Operation London Bridge? No idea what Charles' title might be? Wondering what his first appointments as king will be? 

You can all about the plan here.

Prince Harry arrives at Balmoral

A notable absence in the main group of royal family members traveling to and seen arriving at Balmoral was Prince Harry. The prince arrived after news of the queen's passing was made known, and was seen arriving at the Balmoral residence alone.

Earlier it had been reported that both Harry and his wife Meghan the Duchess of Sussex would be traveling to Scotland. It was later clarified that Harry would travel immediately, followed by his wife at a later stage.

The couple's difficulties with the rest of the family have been well documented in recent years.

Former PMs Blair, Major, May, Johnson join chorus

Boris Johnson, who saw the queen just days ago when he resigned as prime minister, described it as the UK's "saddest day."

He said Elizabeth had "a unique and simple power to make us happy."

Johnson also praised the Queen for modernizing the constitutional monarchy.  

His predecessor Theresa May said "it was the honor of my life to serve her as Prime Minister." 

"Her Majesty witnessed tremendous change, moving adroitly with the times but always providing stability and reassurance," May said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Another former Prime Minister David Cameron also offered his condolences.

"No matter how prepared one could be for this day, there are no words that can adequately express the sense of loss our nation will feel," Cameron said.

"We have lost not just our monarch but the matriarch of our nation, the figure who more than any other brought our country together, kept us in touch with our better nature, personified everything which makes us proud to be British," former Prime Minster Tony Blair said.

"In her public duties she was selfless and wise, with a wonderful generosity of spirit. That is how she lived — and how she led," former Prime Minister John Major said.

German leaders pay tribute to 'an example and inspiration to millions'

German leaders also joined in the chorus of condolences, highlighting the queen's role in repairing the relationship between the UK and Germany after the Second World War, during which she had volunteered in the Women's Auxiliary Territory Service, working primarily as a mechanic. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the queen "was an example and inspiration to millions, also here in Germany. Her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II will never be forgotten. She will be missed, not the least for her wonderful humor."

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement that "her natural authority, her immense experience, her exemplary performance of duty will remain in our living memory." He added that after World War II, "the hand of reconciliation was also the hand the of the Queen."

"We mourn, with our British friends, the loss of Queen Elizabeth II," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on Twitter. "She was a source of strength and confidence for her country… Germany remains eternally grateful to her for reaching out to us for reconciliation after the terror of the Second World War."

UN, Ukraine extend condolences

World leaders have begun offering their sympathies following news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply saddened" and offered his "condolences to her bereaved family, the government and people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the wider Commonwealth Nations."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Tweet that he learned of the queen's death with "deep sadness."

"On behalf of the royal Ukrainian people, we extend sincere condolences to the Royal Family, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you," Zelenskyy said.

PM Liz Truss — Queen was 'the rock on which modern Britain was built'

British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was only sworn in at Balmoral on Tuesday this week, paid tribute to the queen following news of her passing, hailing her as the " the very spirit of Great Britain."

"Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her," Truss said outside her Downing Street office and residence.

Truss was the 15th prime minister during the queen's tenure, in a line stretching all the way back to Winston Churchill in 1952, who famously considered himself something of a mentor for the unusually young female head of state. 

The Union Jack flag atop the prime minister's 10 Downing Street residence was lowered to half-staff after the monarch's death was announced.

Truss ended that statement with the words, "God save the king."

'We mourn profoundly' — King Charles III

Prince Charles, who now becomes king, issued a statement shortly after news of the queen's death was made known.

"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," the statement read.

"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," the new king said.

"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," the statement concluded.

Clarence House confirmed on Thursday that Charles would keep his name as king and would therefore be known as King Charles III. 

BBC make formal announcement of queen's passing

At 18:30 local time (17:30 GMT), the BBC formally announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II during a special broadcast. A written statement was also posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace giving notice of the queen's passing.

News anchors and reporters dressed in black were audibly moved as they reported on news of the monarch's death. BBC reported that a statement from the new king was expected shortly.

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Members of the royal family arrive at Balmoral

A convoy of cars carrying Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie arrived at Balmoral Castle a short while ago where the queen is under medical supervision.

The plane carrying the members of the royal family arrived at Aberdeen Airport before moving on to the royal residence.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla along with his sister Princess Anne, were already in Scotland.

Prince Harry is understood to be traveling to Scotland alone and has canceled a planned appearance at a charity event.

Wellwishers gather at Buckingham Palace

People have started gathering outside Buckingham Palace, some of them bearing bouquets of flowers, following statements relating to the health of the queen, with Londoners and other visitors alike wishing the monarch to "Get well soon."

"Everybody is really stressed about it, we have had her for 70 years so we need to digest the whole thing because it suddenly happened," London resident Sharon Gove told Reuters news agency.

"I work close by and I heard on the news about her majesty’s failing health so I was concerned and it led me to come to Buckingham Palace, to be at the heart of the monarchy," said Alexander Caplan who works nearby.

Buckingham Palace is the primary residence of the royal family, although the queen has not been there since early June.

No plans for PM to travel to Scotland — report

Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that there were no current plans for British Prime Minister Liz Truss to travel to Scotland, citing her spokesman. Further comment on the matter was reportedly declined.

Meanwhile, other British political leaders have been wishing the monarch well. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said: "All of us are feeling profoundly concerned at reports of Her Majesty's health. My thoughts and wishes are with the Queen and all of the Royal Family at this time."

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford expressed his wishes. "Concerned to hear the news from Buckingham Palace. I send my best wishes to Her Majesty and her family on behalf of the people of Wales," Drakeford said.

Royal flight landing at Aberdeen airport

At least one aircraft carrying members of the royal family has landed at Aberdeen Airport, reportedly carrying the Duke of Cambridge the Duke of York, the Earl and the Countess of Wessex.

Local media reported that seven members of the royal family are onboard the flight, which departed from the Northolt Royal Airforce Base near London.

At least one other plane has departed the RAF base.

Family rushes to her side

Her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, traveled to Balmoral following the news, joined by his wife Camilla and his son Prince William. The Queen's other children — Anne, Andrew and Edward — were also headed to the castle.

And grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were traveling to Balmoral, a spokesperson for the couple said.

Such a gathering of the House of Windsor, outside of events such as Christmas or Easter or major public events, is extremely rare.

Queen canceled virtual meeting on Wednesday

On Wednesday, the monarch canceled a virtual meeting of her Privy Council after being advised to rest. 

She has been suffering from "episodic mobility problems" since the end of last year, according to Royal officials, and contracted COVID-19 in February. In October, Elizabeth spent a night in hospital.

The monarch, Britain's Head of State, has increasingly handed over official duties to Prince Charles, and other royal family members. 

She has recently missed other high-profile events, including this year's State Opening of Parliament and the Platinum Jubilee Concert. Her husband of 70 years, Prince Philip, died in April of last year.

Public figures offer thoughts

Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the queen on Tuesday, said she was thinking of her, in a post on Twitter.

"My thoughts — and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom — are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time," she wrote.

The speaker of the British parliament said Queen Elizabeth was in the house's thoughts. "I know I speak on behalf of the entire House when I say we send all the best wishes to her Majesty the Queen," Lindsay Hoyle said in the House of Commons.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said: "Along with the rest of the country, I am deeply worried by the news from Buckingham Palace this afternoon."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is the highest-ranking cleric in the Church of England, which is headed by the Queen, said she was in his prayers.

"May God's presence strengthen and comfort Her Majesty, her family, and those who are caring for her at Balmoral," he said in a post on Twitter.

Queen placed under medical supervision earlier on Thursday

The UK's Queen Elizabeth II was placed under medical supervision over concerns for her health earlier on Thursday, the royal family announced on Thursday.

"Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen's doctors are concerned for Her Majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision," the family said in a statement.

"The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral [Castle]" — the Scottish estate where she has spent the summer.

The palace did not provide further details on the seriousness of her condition. She is 96 years old.

ab,kb,aw/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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