Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch whose rule spanned seven decades, died on Thursday at the age of 96. Charles, her oldest son, has now become King Charles III. “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 announced in a statement posted on its official Twitter account. Charles said in a statement that the Queen’s death was “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”
Queen Elizabeth II, who died on April 21st at the age of 92, was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. On the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, she was coronated and became queen regnant. She oversaw the last throes of the British empire and weathered global upheaval and domestic scandal. In 1953, she married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (known as the Duke of Edinburgh), with whom she had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Elizabeth dramatically modernized the monarchy by opening Buckingham Palace to tourists and removing her children from public schools to a more private education. She unified the Commonwealth nations through vast transatlantic travels and an emphasis on international understanding between peoples of different races and religions.
The Queen’s four children were at Balmoral Castle when the announcement was made. Prince Charles rushed to the Scottish castle earlier on Thursday together with his wife, Camilla. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, known as the Princess Royal, was already there. Prince William, who is now the heir apparent to the throne, arrived at Balmoral Thursday afternoon together with the Queen’s other two sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, as well as Edward’s wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex. Charles and Camilla were previously known by that title. Catherine has remained at Windsor, where their three children attended their first day at a new school. Prince Harry was also on his way to Balmoral, a spokesperson said. His wife Meghan was not traveling with him because she will be spending time with her family after leaving her job earlier this week as an actress on television series “Suits.”