The nation’s longest-reigning monarch passed away this afternoon aged 96 at her private royal residence in the Scottish Highlands, one of her favourite places, surrounded by close family. The Prince of Wales is now King, having acceded to the throne immediately on the death of his mother.
In a statement, the Palace said: “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.”
Britain will enter a period of national mourning for the monarch, who dedicated her life to royal duty.
Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to make a statement shortly.
The long-held so-called London Bridge plans for the coming days and the Queen’s state funeral will now be put in place, as will the contingency element Operation Unicorn for a death in Scotland.
The Queen is expected to lie in state in a few days’ time, with her funeral held in Westminster Abbey in central London in around 10 days.
Earlier today, the Palace shared a rare update saying doctors were concerned about the head of state’s health
A Palace spokesman said in a statement just after 12.30pm: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex all headed to be at the Queen’s side.
Prince Harry, who is currently in the UK with Meghan Markle as part of a mini European tour, also travelled to Balmoral to be with his grandmother while the Duchess stayed behind in London. She may join her husband at a later point.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cambridge remained in Windsor with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis who had their first full day at their new school today.
An RAF plane landed in Aberdeen just before 4pm carrying the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York and the Wessexes.
Prince William drove the royals as part of a fleet of cars which arrived at Balmoral soon after 5pm.
Crowds began gathering outside Buckingham Palace this afternoon on a bleak day in central London where more than 1,000 people had congregated by 6pm.
Alongside her public duties, the Queen was also a mother of four, grandmother to eight and great-grandmother of 12 great-grandchildren.
One of the most famous women in the world, the Queen, recognisable for her colourful hats and distinctive wave, was known for her love of horses, racing and corgis.
She also had a deep Christian faith, and as a long-reigning constitutional monarch, her knowledge and professionalism were unparalleled.
The new King – Charles – is expected to speak to the nation and lead the tributes to his beloved mother.
Concern for the Queen’s health had been heightened in the past year but escalated today following the Palace’s statement.
She had been suffering from ongoing mobility issues and rarely carried out engagements outside of her royal residences in recent months.
Buckingham Palace has declined to give an ongoing commentary on the monarch’s health.
She looked bright but frail when she appointed Liz Truss as Prime Minister at Balmoral Castle on Tuesday.
It was a busy day for the head of state who also accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson at her private royal residence in Aberdeenshire.
The Queen postponed a virtual Privy Council meeting on Wednesday after being advised by royal doctors to rest.
It comes after the head of state celebrated her historic Platinum Jubilee milestone of 70 years on the throne this year.
During the celebrations, she only travelled to Buckingham Palace twice, making appearances on the balcony for Trooping the Colour and the pageant finale to the delight of royal fans.
The monarch had been mainly based at Windsor Castle since the Covid pandemic struck back in March 2020.
She spent a night in hospital for tests last October and missed a series of key royal engagements after being ordered by doctors to rest.
She caught Covid in February and experienced mild cold-like symptoms.
The Queen is the only British monarch to have celebrated a Platinum Jubilee with her reign stretching from the post-war years into the 21st century.
She used her Jubilee milestone to set her affairs in order, backing the Duchess of Cornwall to be Queen Consort when Prince Charles is King.
However, she faced royal troubles in recent years including Megxit and the scandal over Prince Andrew.
The Queen’s beloved husband Prince Philip, who she was married to for 73 years, died in April 2021.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was born at 2.40am on April 21 1926 in London.