On Sept. 8, 2022, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II has died. A post shared to the official account of the royal family revealed the queen’s peaceful demise at Balmoral Castle, her beloved summer home in the Scottish Highlands, on Thursday afternoon. The royal’s declining condition has been a source of concern for her family, doctors, and the public for some time, as it forced her to cancel many public appearances. The queen will remain at Balmoral for the night and will return to London on Sept. 9.
Doctors became increasingly concerned about her health approximately five hours before the queen’s tragic departure. The news channels suspended their regular programming as Prince William drove his fellow royal family members, including Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, towards the royal residence in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. People gathered outside Buckingham Palace to express support, and the crowds continued to swell before news of the queen’s death broke. After a moment of silence, people chanted “God Save the Queen.”
The passing of the 96-year-old monarch, who reigned for more than 70 years and celebrated her Platinum Jubilee just a few months prior in June 2022, marks the true end of an era. In her reign, which began in February 1925 following the death of her father King George VI, Elizabeth helped lead the United Kingdom through profound shifts in its geopolitical power and national identity. First, there were adjustments to a post-colonial, post-imperial era. Most recently, the late royal saw her country’s bitter split from the European Union.
Much of the queen’s power was contained in her continual presence. As the queen’s son and heir Prince Charles said in a rare television documentary, dubbed A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by the Prince of Wales, that aired in 2012 in honor of Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary, “Perhaps subconsciously, people feel encouraged, reassured by something that is always there.”
Queen Elizabeth II made her last public appearance earlier this week, on Tuesday, Sep. 6, when she greeted Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss in the drawing room at Balmoral. To put things into perspective: Truss was the 15th British prime minister to have an audience with the queen upon taking office. In the past, the royal worked with notable figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, both of which went down in world history. In her time, she also saw 13 presidents of the United States inhabit the White House.
Queen Elizabeth II is survived by her four children: Prince Charles (1948), Princess Anne (1950), Prince Andrew (1960), and Prince Edward (1964). In line with protocol, her oldest son and heir to the throne Charles immediately became the 62nd British monarch.