Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died at 96. She reigned for 70 years.
Her eldest son, Charles, 73, has succeeded as king, according to centuries of protocol.
The royal family – King Charles, grandsons William and Harry and their families – have gathered at her Balmoral retreat in the Scottish highlands, where she spent her last days.
The UK celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to mark 70 years of service to the nation with grand events in June.
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth became the longest-serving British monarch, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. This year, she became the world’s second longest reigning monarch.
As UK celebrated her Platinum Jubilee milestone with royal parades, street parties and pageantry, the Queen thanked the nation in a letter, saying that she had been “humbled and deeply touched”.
“When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first,” she wrote.
The Queen missed some of the events because of her health, and Prince Charles and second in line Prince William attended them. She did appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the Jubilee Pageant.
For most of her subjects, she was the only monarch they had ever known, featuring on stamps, banknotes and coins, and immortalised in popular culture.
She lived through some of the biggest royal scandals – from the divorce of Charles and Diana to her second son Prince Andrew’s alleged links to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Harry and Meghan quitting royal life.
But she was witness to some of the most eventful moments in modern history, from the assassination of US President John F Kennedy, to the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin wall and the Covid pandemic. She saw 14 Prime Ministers of UK during her reign, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss. In a first, she appointed Liz Truss in Balmoral in Scotland as she was too ill to return to London.
President Joe Biden said in a statement on Queen Elizabeth II’s death that “the thoughts and prayers of people all across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief.”
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch,” Biden and first lady Jill Biden said Thursday in a written statement, shortly after the queen’s death was announced. “She defined an era.”
“In a world of constant change,” they continued, “she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her.”
The Bidens said the late queen helped make the U.S.-U.K. relationship “special.”
“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” they wrote.