Longest-reigning British monarch, dies at 96

Queen Elizabeth, a beloved leader who ascended to the throne at age 25 in 1952, died Thursday at her Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch who served as the beloved face of her country and source of strength for seven decades, died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96.

The Queen's doctors said earlier Thursday that they were "concerned for Her Majesty’s health" and that she was "resting comfortably" at Balmoral under medical supervision.

She died "peacefully" Thursday afternoon, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

"The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow," Buckingham Palace said.

The royal was preceded in death by her husband, Prince Philip, who spent more than seven decades supporting the queen. The Duke of Edinburgh, Britain’s longest-serving consort, died in April 2021 at age 99. Elizabeth and Philip were married for more than 70 years and had four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

From the small, curly-haired girl known to her family as "Lilibet" to the gracious, bespectacled great-grandmother who favored broad-brimmed hats, deliberate bright fashion and sensible shoes, the queen was always a favorite with her subjects both at home and in her many visits to Commonwealth nations around the world.

Queen Elizabeth II, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was the sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other commonwealth countries, including Northern Ireland. She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the second longest-reigning monarch in the history of the world, behind French King Louis XIV. She died at age 96 on September 8, 2022. She was married to Philip Mountbatten from 1947 until his death in April 2021. The marriage of 73 years produced four children, including Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Anne, Princess Royal. As a young woman, Elizabeth served in the British Auxiliary Territorial Service.

She was seen as a British icon and was widely popular despite high-profile scandals that have plagued the Windsors over the last few decades. Queen Elizabeth was the eldest child of King George VI, who became monarch in 1936 after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated the Throne.

During the final years of King George VI's life, he became seriously ill with smoking-related diseases. Elizabeth overtook many of his royal duties, along with her husband, including a visit to the United States. The king died in December 1952 due to coronary thrombosis. Elizabeth was officially coronated on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey at the age of 25.

Her reign as a constitutional monarch has overseen many political reforms and developments in the United Kingdom, such as the end of British imperialism and control over Africa, uprisings in Northern Ireland, the Cold war, and the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union. She visited and hosted many heads of state and religious leaders from all over the world, including five popes. She celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Outside of traditional ceremonial duties, Queen Elizabeth was known to take an active interest in the affairs of the British government and meet regularly with the country's prime minister.

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