Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch, has died at 96. She reigned for 70 years.
The royal family – the Queen’s son and heir Prince Charles, grandsons William and Harry and their families – have gathered at her Balmoral retreat in the Scottish highlands, where she spent her last days.
The UK celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years of service to the nation with grand events in June.
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth became the longest-serving British monarch, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. This year, she became the world’s second longest reigning monarch.
As UK celebrated her Platinum Jubilee milestone with royal parades, street parties and pageantry, the Queen thanked the nation in a letter, saying that she had been “humbled and deeply touched”.
“When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first,” she wrote.
The Queen missed some of the events because of her health, and Prince Charles and second in line Prince William attended them. She did appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the Jubilee Pageant.
For most of her subjects, she was the only monarch they had ever known, featuring on stamps, banknotes and coins, and immortalised in popular culture.
She lived through some of the biggest royal scandals – from the divorce of Charles and Diana to her second son Prince Andrew’s alleged links to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Harry and Meghan quitting royal life.
But she was witness to some of the most eventful moments in modern history, from the assassination of US President John F Kennedy, to the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin wall and the Covid pandemic. She saw 14 Prime Ministers of UK during her reign, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss. In a first, she appointed Liz Truss in Balmoral in Scotland as she was too ill to return to London.
Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in April 2021, just weeks short of his 100th birthday.
An image of the Queen sitting alone in the quire of St. George’s Chapel during his funeral, due to COVID protocol, moved the world.