LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a symbol of stability for most of a turbulent century, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96 years old.
Buckingham Palace announced that he died at Balmoral Castle, his summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family had rushed to it after his health deteriorated.RELATED
She was a link to the nearly vanished generation that fought in World War II, and she was the only monarch most Britons had ever known.
After his death, his 73-year-old son Prince Charles automatically became king, choosing to call himself King Charles III, his office said. His second wife, Camila, will be called the queen consort.
The BBC broadcast the national anthem “God Save the Queen”, with a portrait of the queen in full royal attire announcing her death, and the flag was lowered at half-staff at Buckingham Palace to mark the end of the second she was Elizabethan.
The impact of her loss will be enormous and unpredictable, both for the nation and for the monarchy, an institution that she helped stabilize and modernize through decades of massive social change and family scandal, but whose relevance in the 21st century has faded. often questioned.
The changing of the guard also comes at a tense time for Britain, which has a new prime minister and is grappling with an energy crisis, double-digit inflation, the war in Ukraine and the fallout from Brexit.
Carlos, who is nowhere near as popular as his mother, called her death “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and for all the members of my family.”
“I know his loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth of Nations, and by countless people around the world,” he added.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss, appointed by the queen just 48 hours earlier, declared the country “devastated” and called Elizabeth II “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
A crowd gathered outside Buckingham Palace in the rain and some people wept as officials brought a notice confirming the queen’s death to her London home.
In Canada, where the monarch was the head of state, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised her “wisdom, compassion and warmth.” In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and her people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by the passing of her ”of her.
US President Joe Biden called her a “statesman of unparalleled dignity and steadfastness who deepened the firm alliance between Britain and the United States.”
From February 6, 1952, Elizabeth reigned over a country that rebuilt itself after a ruinous war and lost its empire; she joined the European Union and then left it; and she made the painful transition to the 21st century. She has outlasted 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Truss, a fixture and a reassuring presence even to those who ignored or loathed the monarchy.
In her later years she became less visible, as age and frailty reduced her public appearances, and she used a cane after the death in April 2021 of Felipe, her husband of 73 years. That same year she was hospitalized overnight for tests.
But he remained firmly in control of the monarchy and at the center of national life as Britain celebrated its Platinum Jubilee in June. That same month she became the second longest-living monarch in history, behind 17th-century French King Louis XIV, who ascended the throne at age 4.
In 1947, when he was 21 years old and almost five years before his coronation, he promised the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations that “all my life, long or short, I will be devoted to your service”.
It was a promise he kept for more than seven decades.
Isabel Alejandra María Windsor was born in London on April 21, 1926; she was the firstborn of the Duke and Duchess of York. She was not born to be a queen, as her father’s older brother, Prince Edward, was destined for the crown and was supposed to be inherited by her children.
But in 1936, when Elizabeth was 10, Edward VIII abdicated to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, so Elizabeth’s father was crowned George VI.
Princess Margaret remembered asking her sister if this meant she would one day be queen. “Yes, I guess so,” Margarita said, remembering her sister. “She didn’t mention it again.”
Elizabeth was in her early teens when Britain went to war with Germany in 1939. Elizabeth and Margaret spent most of the war in Windsor Castle, and many nights in an underground bomb shelter.
In 1945, eager to support the tasks of the war, the heir to the throne entered the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where Elizabeth enthusiastically learned to drive and maintain heavy vehicles.
The night the war ended in Europe, May 8, 1945, Isabel and Margarita managed to mingle, unrecognized, with the celebrating crowd in London “carried by a wave of happiness and relief,” she recounted decades later, when describe “one of the most memorable nights of my life”.
In November 1947, she married Royal Navy officer Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, whom she met in 1939 when she was 13 and he was 18, at Westminster Abbey.
The first of their four children, Prince Charles, was born on November 14, 1948. He was followed by Princess Anne on August 15, 1950, Prince Andrew on February 19, 1960, and Prince Edward on March 10, 1964. In addition to his four children, he is survived by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
In February 1952, George VI, then 56 years old, died in his sleep after years of illness. Isabella received in Kenya, where she was on an official visit, the news that she would be the next monarch.
“Somehow I didn’t have an apprenticeship,” Isabel reflected during a 1992 BBC documentary that opened an unusual window into her emotions. “My father died very young, so it was all a very sudden way of taking over and doing the best job possible.”
Elizabeth’s coronation, which took place more than a year later, was a grand spectacle in Westminster Abbey seen by millions through the relatively new medium of television.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s first reaction to the king’s death was to claim that the new queen was “just a girl”, but Elizabeth won him over within days and he eventually became one of the queen’s ardent admirers.
Elizabeth was required to meet weekly with the prime ministers, and was generally found to be well-informed, curious, and up-to-date.
The queen’s views at these private meetings were the subject of much conjecture and fertile ground for playwrights such as Peter Morgan, author of “The Audience” and the popular series “The Crown.” These semi-fictional versions were products of an era when deference to the royal family was diminishing, its members becoming celebrity figures and their problems becoming public domain.
In Elizabeth’s first years on the throne, Princess Margaret sparked a national controversy over her affair with a divorced man. In 1992, the year that the queen described as “annus horribilis”, her daughter Princess Anne divorced, Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated and so did Prince Andrew from his wife Sarah. In the same year, Windsor Castle was heavily damaged in a fire.
The public separation of Charles and Diana followed the shock of the princess’s death in a car accident in Paris in 1997. At the time, the queen seemed out of step with her people.
In the midst of unprecedented mourning, Elizabeth’s inability to make a public display of grief was seen by many as a lack of sensitivity. After several days, she finally gave a televised address to the nation.
The dent in his popularity was brief. By now she was considered a kind of national grandmother, with a penetrating gaze and a sweet smile.
He was arguably the most famous person in the world. But her private life and opinions remained largely an enigma. Audiences only saw glimpses of her personality: the joy of her watching the horse races at Royal Ascot in the company of her beloved Welsh corgis.
In 2015, she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who was on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days, to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history. The loss of Felipe at the beginning of 2021 was a heavy blow for her.
The family problems did not stop. His son, Prince Andrew, was involved in the sordid story of the American sexual abuser and businessman Jeffrey Epstein, with whom he had been a friend. The queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, walked away from Britain and his royal duties after marrying American actress Meghan Markle in 2018.
Already in her 90s, the queen began to have what the palace called “mobility problems” and rarely appeared in public in 2022, the year of her Platinum Jubilee. In May, she asked Charles to stand in for her at the official opening of Parliament, one of the monarch’s key constitutional duties.
On September 6, he presided over a ceremony at Balmoral Castle to accept Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister and appoint Truss as his successor.
As Brits suffered from loss, isolation and uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, she made a rare video speech in 2020 urging people to stick together.
He invoked the spirit of World War II, that vital moment in his life and that of the nation, and echoed Vera Lynn’s war anthem, “We’ll Meet Again.”
“We should take comfort in the fact that while we still have more to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again,” she said.
Associated Press writers Gregory Katz and Robert Barr contributed to this report prior to their deaths.