Remembering Our Queen

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died, leaving her people in mourning but reflecting on a life of duty in which she bound the country together through 70 years of momentous change. Her death, at the age of 96, was announced by Buckingham Palace at 6.30pm yesterday. It marked a watershed moment in the life of the nation, leaving it without its “matriarch”.

The Prince of Wales was at her bedside at Balmoral, her beloved castle in the Scottish highlands, along with other members of the royal family. At the moment of her passing, her son became King Charles III. The new King said his mother’s death was a moment of “the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family”, but said the family would be “comforted and sustained” by the respect and affection for the Queen in Britain and across the Commonwealth. Flags across the country flew at half mast, while at Westminster a band played “God Save the King”.

As dusk fell, thousands of people amassed outside Buckingham Palace to pay tribute. The Queen, who celebrated the 70th anniversary of her reign this year, represented continuity and stability for Britain from the postwar era into the 21st century, acting as a unifying figure at times of crisis. “She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure,” said Liz Truss, the Queen’s 15th prime minister. The Queen’s last formal function on Tuesday was to invite Truss to form a new government. The King and his wife, Camilla, who becomes the Queen Consort, remained at Balmoral and will return to London today. Global leaders shared their condolences from around the world.

French president Emmanuel Macron said: “I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted Queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.” Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, offered “heartfelt condolences” to the royal family and the citizens of the UK and the Commonwealth, praising the Queen’s “poise, wisdom and respect for the institutions and for democracy”.

A statement by US president Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era.”

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