It is the end of an era. Queen Elizabeth, the longest-reigning British monarch, has passed away. Her Majesty died on Sept. 8. She was 96 years old. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day, the palace had announced that doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health” and “recommended she remain under medical supervision.” At the time, the palace said, “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
Born in Mayfair in 1926, Elizabeth was the eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth after her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated. Upon Edward’s abdication in 1936, Elizabeth became the heir presumptive. The Princess acceded to the throne following her father’s death in 1952. Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time of her father’s passing. She returned to the UK as Queen with her coronation taking place over a year later on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey. In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch and in 2022 she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service.
The Queen was married to Prince Philip. The pair first met in 1934 at the wedding of Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece, and Elizabeth’s uncle, the Duke of Kent. The Princess and Philip announced their engagement in July of 1947 and exchanged vows months later in November at Westminster Abbey. In 2017, the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh became the first couple in the royal family to celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary (70 years). The Queen’s beloved husband passed away “peacefully” at Windsor Castle in April 2021.
Over the course of their marriage, Elizabeth and Philip welcomed four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, in addition to eight grandchildren—Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn. The late monarch also had 12 great-grandchildren—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Archie Harrison, Lilibet Diana, Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips, Mia Tindall, Lena Tindall, Lucas Tindall, August Brooksbank and Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi.
Future King, Prince William, spoke warmly of his grandmother in the preface to 2015’s Elizabeth II: The Steadfast. "I think I speak for my generation when I say that the example and continuity provided by The Queen is not only very rare among leaders but a great source of pride and reassurance,” the Duke of Cambridge wrote. "From a personal point of view, I am privileged to witness the private side of The Queen, as a grandmother and great-grandmother." William added, “The Queen’s kindness and sense of humour, her innate sense of calm and perspective, and her love of family and home are all attributes I experience first-hand."
Elizabeth, whose passions included horses and dogs, praised her family’s support in 2002. She said, “I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family. The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past fifty years, as he has to so many charities and organisations with which he has been involved.” The Queen continued, “We both have a special place in our hearts for our children. I want to express my admiration for The Prince of Wales and for all he has achieved for this country. Our children, and all my family, have given me such love and unstinting help over the years.”