Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognizable to billions of people worldwide, has passed away at 96.
Following the queen’s record-breaking 70-year reign, her eldest son Charles, 73, assumes the throne immediately following centuries of tradition, ushering in a new, less secure chapter for the royal family.
The palace said on Thursday that physicians were “concerned” for the queen’s health and advised she remain under medical observation. The announcement came after the queen’s death.
Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward, now in their sixties and seventies, came to her Scottish Highland home, Balmoral.
Charles’s sons, Prince William and his estranged brother Prince Harry joined them.
Liz Truss was selected as the 15th Prime Minister of her reign two days earlier by the Queen, who was seen grinning but seeming elderly and using a walking stick.
Her 70-year rule coincided with enormous social, political, and technical changes that spanned two centuries.
The final ruins of Britain’s extensive empire fell. Brexit rattled her kingdom’s underpinnings at home as her family dealt with a slew of scandals.
She was the monarch and head of state of 14 former British colonies, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and she maintained her popularity throughout.
She also served as supreme ruler of the Church of England, the mother church of the global Anglican communion, and leader of the 56-nation Commonwealth, which includes one-fourth of the world’s population.
However, concerns will be raised about whether the British monarchy’s heyday has ended, how a centuries-old institution can survive in the present, and if Charles will demand the same respect or rule in his mother’s shadow.
On a date to be determined, Charles’ coronation, a complex process rooted in history and custom, will take place in the exact iconic locations as it has done for generations.