Queen Elizabeth II, the head of United Kingdom Royal family, has died aged 96, Buckingham 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,” the palace said in a statement.
Flags across the U.K. were lowered to half-mast ahead of a national minute’s silence and the start of an official period of mourning.
Elizabeth became queen in 1952 after the premature death of her father George VI, and went on to become both the country’s longest-lived and longest-serving monarch.
As a young princess she first took on public duties during the Second World War, appearing on the radio and being appointed one of her father’s effective deputies as counsellor of state.
She married Philip Mountbatten in 1947, a marriage which lasted until his death in 2021 and produced four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
She is credited with revitalizing the monarchy, embarking on a seven-month world tour shortly after she took the throne and helping to secure the transition of the Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations. She traveled extensively in the Commonwealth even as an increasing number of African and Caribbean countries decolonized in the 1960s and 1970s.
The 1980s and 1990s saw one of the most difficult periods of her reign as press scrutiny of the royal family intensified with a particular focus on the unhappy marriage between Charles and Princess Diana.