Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history, died at her Balmoral estate in Scotland at the age of 96. “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,” a statement from the Palace read. Queen Elizabeth’s son, Charles, has ascended the throne and will be known as King Charles III. Charles’s eldest son, Prince William, is now heir to the throne.
Elizabeth was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, duke of York (later to become King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She wasn’t destined to be queen; her father was the second son of King George V and Queen Mary Elizabeth, and was not expected to become sovereign. That all changed, however, with the abdication crisis of 1936 when her uncle King Edward VIII gave up the throne to spend his life with American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
Princess Elizabeth was married to Philip Mountbatten in 1947, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece. Within months, they had their first child, Charles, followed by Anne, Andrew and Edward over the next 16 years. Elizabeth’s father, George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952 at just 56 years old, and Elizabeth took the throne.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, died April 9, 2021 at age 99. He was the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch. After his death, the queen’s health slowly deteriorated. She was hospitalized for one night in late October 2021 for what Buckingham Palace described as “preliminary investigations.” A few weeks later on Nov. 14, the queen missed the annual Remembrance Sunday service after she sprained her back. And in February 2022, the queen tested positive for COVID-19 but had only “mild cold-like symptoms” as a result of the virus.
In April, the queen celebrated her 96th birthday at Sandringham, her country estate in Norfolk. And just this past June, the queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne. She attended just three events during the four-day celebration due to what Buckingham Palace described at the time as “some discomfort.”
Queen Elizabeth is survived by her three sons, Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward; one daughter, Princess Anne; eight grandchildren, Princes William and Harry of Wales, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, and Peter and Zara Phillips, as well as Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. She is also survived by 12 great-grandchildren.
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