The monarch reigned over England for 70 years.
Queen Elizabeth II, the British royal matriarch and world’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at 96 years old.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” the royal family confirmed in a statement at 6 p.m. U.K. time.
Senior members of the royal family are gathered at Balmoral Castle, her residence in Scotland.
The queen recently celebrated an unprecedented Platinum Jubilee, having ruled England for a record period of 70 years. Born on April 21, 1926, she was daughter to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as well as older sister to Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (born August 21, 1930), who passed away in 2002.
Her Majesty married the late former Greek royal Philip Mountbatten, later titled His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London on November 20, 1947. The queen and duke first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George, Duke of Kent, later reconnecting in 1939 at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where the two reportedly fell in love. The royal pair were married for over seven decades and shared four children together: Charles, Prince of Wales (1948); Anne, Princess Royal (1950); Andrew, Duke of York (1960); and Edward, Earl of Wessex (1964). Philip died on April 9, 2021, at age 99.
The queen was additionally royal matriarch to eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Prince Charles, Her Majesty’s direct heir to the throne, welcomed her grandsons Prince William and Harry of Wales in 1982 and 1984 with Diana, Princess of Wales (whom Charles married in 1981). The queen was also grandmother to Peter and Zara Philipps; Lady Louise Windsor; and James, Viscount Severn; as well as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. Her royal great-grandchildren include Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis of Cambridge; Savannah and Isla Philips; Mia Grace, Lena Elizabeth, and Lucas Philip Tindall; Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor; and Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi.
In 1952, the queen, then Princess Elizabeth, succeeded to the British royal throne following her father’s death from lung cancer. She has since served as head of the commonwealth, for which she led an association of 54 independent nations and became a force of international socioeconomic change.
Throughout her 70-year reign, the queen visited over 110 countries and lived through some of the most pivotal points in modern history, including World War II, the Cold War, and the Brexit crisis.
Her Majesty was a dedicated supporter of her country and people. At the height of the Second World War, Elizabeth II, then just a teen, made strides to boost the country’s morale with periodical radio broadcasts including the BBC’s Children’s Hour. She also later served as a mechanic and truck driver in the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, making her the first and only female royal to have served in the army. In addition, the queen was a demonstrated champion of gender equality, having helped pass the Crown Act of 2013, which called for the dissociation of succession from gender, granting female royals equal opportunity to stand in line for the throne.
Her Majesty was adored for her ingenuity and grounded sense of humor. Famously documented playing with her dogs or beaming at the sight of cows, the queen will be missed for her passion for animals, her love of derbies, and her regal calmness amid trying times in modern history.
In March 2014, Queen Elizabeth sat for a series of new portraits by photographer David Bailey in honor of her 88th birthday that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in support of the U.K.’s GREAT Britain campaign, an initiative designed to showcase British creative talent around the world. The dress the queen wore for the session was chosen with the help of her longtime assistant and designer, Angela Kelly, who worked with her since 1994. The jewelry the queen selected for the portraits—a beaming sapphire-and-diamond necklace and matching earrings—were a gift from her father, George VI, on the occasion of her wedding to Philip. The images—majestic, but also surprisingly candid and even joyful—revealed a very human side of a woman who, for her entire adult life, was required to be so much more.
Her death marks a turning point for the British monarchy, as her son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William will now shape the future of the royal family.