UKDeath of Queen Elizabeth

Charles becomes British king after death of Queen Elizabeth, aged 96

The queen was the longest-serving of all British monarchs, reigning for 70 years

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died aged 96 after a 70-year reign during which she served as a unifying figure amid her country’s political, social and technological change. Her son Charles immediately succeeded her as King Charles III and his wife Camilla became Queen Consort.

“The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother,” the king said in a statement.

The queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday afternoon, hours after a statement saying her doctors were concerned about her health. Her four children gathered at Balmoral, along with Prince William, following the news that her health had deteriorated but Prince Harry did not reach the castle until an hour after her death was announced at 6.30pm.

A few hundred people gathered outside Buckingham Palace in advance of the announcement and 50 black cabs lined the Mall after the news that the queen was dead.


Prime minister Liz Truss, who learned of the queen’s death two hours before the announcement, said it was an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years.

“Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories. She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure,” she said.

Ms Truss, who met the queen at Balmoral on Tuesday when she was appointed prime minister, spoke with King Charles on Thursday evening. The king was spending the night at Balmoral before returning to London where an accession council of senior ministers and privy counsellors will proclaim his accession to the throne.

MPs will pay tribute to the queen in the House of Commons on Friday afternoon and church bells will be tolled across England. There will be 10 days of mourning during which the king is expected to visit Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in advance of the funeral in Westminster Abbey.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the queen’s reign as one of immense consequence and a focus of respect and admiration around the world.

“Her state visit to Ireland in 2011 marked a crucial step in the normalisation of relations with our nearest neighbour. That visit was a great success, largely because of the many gracious gestures and warm remarks made by the queen during her time in Ireland,” he said.

“Her popularity with the Irish people was also very evident and clearly made a very positive impact on the queen. In particular, I recall the warmth of the welcome she received from the public in Cork during her walkabout at the English Market.”

US president Joe Biden, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and French president Emmanuel Macron were among the leaders who paid tribute to the queen. Pope Francis praised her “unstinting service” to Britain and the Commonwealth, her devotion to duty and her Christian faith.

In a letter to King Charles, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the most important events in recent British history were inextricably linked with her name.

“For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage. I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss. I ask you to convey the words of sincere sympathy and support to the members of the royal family and all the people of Great Britain,” Mr Putin wrote.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times