Queen Elizabeth II — monarch of the United Kingdom, sovereign to 14 other realms, head of the Commonwealth, supreme governor of the Church of England, and an iconic figure in global public life for some three-quarters of a century — has died, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. She was 96.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the royal family said in a statement. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Upon news of her death, the flag was lowered atop Buckingham Palace in London, where mourners had already begun gathering. Per royal custom, a framed copy of the death announcement was placed on the gates of the palace. The BBC also began playing the British national anthem and aired an image of the late queen.
The new King also released a statement in which he said his mother’s death was “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 deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world,” the 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 royal family had announced earlier on Thursday that doctors were “concerned” for the Queen’s health and had placed her under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Her children and grandchildren had traveled to be with her.
The monarch was last pictured by a photographer on Tuesday at her Scottish residence, where she met with Liz Truss to invite her to become prime minister. Truss and outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson had journeyed to Scotland, rather than Buckingham Palace in London, because doctors had advised the queen not to travel.
In a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Truss said it was “a day of great loss,” describing the late queen as “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
“Our country has grown and flourished under her reign,” Truss said. “Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”