Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch, died on September 8, at the age of 96, a statement by Buckingham Palace, said on the same day.
The monarch died in the afternoon at Balmoral Castle, her royal estate in Scotland, a few hours after the family expressed concerns over her deteriorating health via a statement.
“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 statement said.
In a separate statement, Prince Charles, the queen’s eldest son and heir apparent to the throne, said “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.”
Apart from Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, others present at the time the queen passed on, were her two other sons, Prince Andrew and Edward, her daughter, Princess Anne and her grandson, Prince Harry and his wife, Megan.
Prince William, second in line for the throne, was on his way to Balmoral when the monarch died but his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, was reportedly taking care of her children – Prince George, Prince Charlotte and Prince Louis – in Windsor. They were on their first full day at their school, Kensington Palace.
The elaborate funeral for the late monarch will begin on September 19 and it is expected to be attended by world leaders.
Queen Elizabeth had reportedly been having health challenges in the past few months, which some doctors suspected was “episodic mobility problems.”
In October last year, the late monarch was hospitalized for a night.
Due to ill health, she was forced to reduce her public engagements.
Before her death, she had been on vacation since late July at Balmoral where she had been spending summer.
On September 5, she broke the tradition and appointed Liz Truss as the new prime minister of Britain from Balmoral, rather than travelling to Buckingham palace to do so. Mrs Truss met the queen on that Tuesday and the latter was in high spirits.
The following day (Wednesday), the queen cancelled a virtual meeting with Mrs Truss and privy council.
Buckingham Palace had made an announcement earlier on the day the queen died that doctors had expressed concerns about her health.
“Following further evaluation this morning, the queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended that she remain under medical supervision,” the statement said.
The Queen’s early life
Born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21, 1926, the late monarch ascended the throne on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25 after the death of her father King George VI. King George VI had begun to reign in 1936 when his brother, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry a divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
The queen was tutored privately following her status as heir presumptive. She consequently served during the Second World War in the Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army.
She was travelling to Kenya early 1952 when she was informed that her father, King George VI, had died, automatically making her queen.
Queen Elizabeth lost her husband, Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021 at the age of 99. They got married on November 20, 1947 and had four children – Charles (Prince of Wales), Anne (Princess Royal), Andrew (Duke of York) and Edward (Earl of Wessex)/ She had eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Her only sister, Princess Margaret, died in 2002.
On her 21st birthday, Queen Elizabeth had pledged to be devoted to the service of her people.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,” she said.
Apart from serving as the monarch, the Queen was also the ceremonial head of state of the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and several other countries. She also served as the head of the Commonwealth of Nations which has about 56 countries as members.
Under her reign, Britain had 15 prime ministers beginning from Winston Churchill to the current, Mrs Truss, who assumed office the week the monarch died. Her reign also saw 14 U.S presidents.
Trust in God
Queen Elizabeth was famously known to be a monarch who put her trust in God throughout her lifetime and the 70 years she was monarch.
Reports say she regularly talked about her faith in God. For instance, ahead of her coronation in 1952, the late monarch, during her first Christmas address, asked for prayer. She demonstrated her Christian faith all through her reign, notably in her annual Christmas broadcasts.
She said, “I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day, to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making and that I may serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
As Queen, she was the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. It was a responsibility she inherited after taking an oath in 1953 to “maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law establishment in England.” Part of her duties were the appointment of archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Church of England as advised by the Prime Minister.
In 2000, Queen Elizabeth was reported as saying, “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
Two years later, after losing her sister and Queen Mother, the late monarch restated her faith in God, saying “I know just how I rely my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.”
At the ceremony hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, to mark her 60 years as monarch, the Queen said, “Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action. Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves.”
In 2016, she said “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value in doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”
Tribute from fathers of faith
Head of Catholic Church, Pope Francis, in his tribute to the Queen in a telegram, said, “I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises.
“Commending her noble soul to the merciful goodness of our Heavenly Father, I assure Your Majesty of my prayers that Almighty God will sustain you with his unfailing grace as you now take up your high responsibilities as King.
“Upon you and all who cherish the memory of your late mother, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings as a pledge of comfort and strength in the Lord.”
Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, said “It is with profound sadness that I join the nation, the Commonwealth and the world in mourning the death of Her Late Majesty The Queen. My prayers are with The King and the Royal Family. May God draw near them and comfort them in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society.
“As deep as our grief runs, even deeper is our gratitude for Her Late Majesty’s extraordinary dedication to the United Kingdom, her Realms and the Commonwealth. Through times of war and hardship, through seasons of upheaval and change, and through moments of joy and celebration, we have been sustained by Her Late Majesty’s faith in what and who we are called to be.
“In the darkest days of the Coronavirus pandemic, The Late Queen spoke powerfully of the light that no darkness can overcome. As she had done before, she reminded us of a deep truth about ourselves – we are a people of hope who care for one another. Even as The Late Queen mourned the loss of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, we saw once again evidence of her courage, resilience and instinct for putting the needs of others first – all signs of a deeply rooted Christian faith.
“As we sustain one another in the face of this challenge, our shared grieving will also be a work of shared reimagining. I pray that we commence this journey with a sense of Her Late Majesty’s faith and confidence in the future.
“As a faithful Christian disciple, and also Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she lived out her faith every day of her life. Her trust in God and profound love for God was foundational in how she led her life – hour by hour, day by day.
“In The Late Queen’s life, we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share it as a gift to others.
“Her Late Majesty found great joy and fulfilment in the service of her people and her God, “whose service is perfect freedom” (BCP). For giving her whole life to us, and allowing her life of service to be an instrument of God’s peace among us, we owe her a debt of gratitude beyond measure.
“The Late Queen leaves behind a truly extraordinary legacy: one that is found in almost every corner of our national life, as well as the lives of so many nations around the world, and especially in the Commonwealth.
“It was my great privilege to meet Her Late Majesty on many occasions. Her clarity of thinking, capacity for careful listening, inquiring mind, humour, remarkable memory and extraordinary kindness invariably left me conscious of the blessing that she has been to us all.
“In my prayers at this time I also give thanks for the marriage of The Late Queen and His Late Royal Highness Prince Philip. Theirs was an inspirational example of Christian marriage – rooted in friendship, nourished by shared faith, and turned outwards in service to others.
“May Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Charles becomes king
Seventy three-year-old Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, was on September 10, two days after his mother’s death, formally proclaimed King of England.
He was proclaimed at a meeting of the accession council in St. James’ Palace by privy counsellors. It was the first since 1952 when Queen Elizabeth was proclaimed.
In his address, King Charles said, “I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me. In taking up these responsibilities, I shall strive to follow the inspiring examples I have set up holding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands and of the Commonwealth realms and territories throughout the world.
“In this purpose, I shall be upheld by the affection and loyalty of the peoples whose sovereign I have been called upon to be, and that in the discharge of these duties I will be guided by the counsel of their elected parliaments.
“And in carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me, and to which I now dedicate what remains to me of my life, I pray for the guidance and help of the almighty God.”
The new king, who would be known as King Charles III, had been the Prince of Wales since 1958.
He became the oldest to be named King of England. He will be 41st king in a line that traces its origins to Norman King William, the conqueror who captured the English throne in 1066. His coronation will be held at a later date.
His wife, Camila, will serve as Queen Consort while his oldest son, William will become the Prince of Wales.
As King, Charles will also be the ceremonial head of state of the United Kingdom and some other countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and Papua New Guinea. Already, Australia has recognised him as its new head of state.
At the ascension of his mother as queen in 1952, Charles was named Duke of Cornwall at the age of three and subsequently the Prince of Wales at 20.
Charles got married to late Princess Diana in 1981 at an elaborate ceremony. They had two sons – Prince Williams and Prince Henry, also known as Harry. The marriage however ended in divorce in 1996 and in the following year, Diana died in an accident. Charles subsequently admitted he was involved in adultery with his current wife, Camilla who he married in 2005.