Queen's coffin placed in Balmoral ballroom for staff to pay respects

The Queen’s coffin is placed in Balmoral ballroom where she danced as a young princess and shared special moments with Philip so household staff can pay their respects before she is taken to Palace of Holyroodhouse

  • The Queen’s coffin has been draped with the Royal Standard and is currently in the ballroom at Balmoral 
  • Household staff who had vowed to remain with her ‘until the end’ will pay their respects today and tomorrow
  • Her body will then be driven from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh 
  • Eventually next week, her coffin will be brought back to London ahead of a planned funeral on September 19 
  • The ballroom at Balmoral held special memories for the Queen, whose fondness of Scotland was well known 
  • She first danced there aged 12 at The Ghillies Ball, an annual dance to thank staff for their hard work 
  • Touching videos show the Queen dancing with her mother and Prince Philip in the ballroom in early 1990s
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

The Queen’s coffin has been placed in the Balmoral ballroom where she danced as a young princess and where she later shared special moments with Prince Philip, to allow her loyal household staff to pay their respects before she begins her final journey back to London. 

The coffin is currently in the ballroom, draped in the Royal Standard. It will remain there for two days before it is driven to the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh. It will then be transported back to London later this week. 

The ballroom held special memories for the Queen, whose affection for the highlands was well known. It is where she danced at the age of 12 as a young princess at the Ghillies Ball, an annual dance at Balmoral for the staff, which she enthusiastically attended for years. 

The annual ball has been a tradition since the 1852, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first acquired the estate. It was their way of thanking the staff for their hard work and loyalty and is a tradition that has endured for well over 100 years. 

Queen Elizabeth II was known to particularly enjoy the event and would often stay late into the night to celebrate with staff. 

Videos show her reeling with Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and Charles and Diana in 1991. It was filmed as part of a documentary about the Royal Family and their traditions. The ball was last held in 2019, before COVID-19. 

Her body will remain at Balmoral for the next two days before being driven to Edinburgh to be placed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. She will stay there for an additional two days for a lying-in-state of sorts, before eventually being brought back to London for her funeral on September 19th. 

The Queen dances with Prince Philip and the Queen Mother at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral in 1991. The Queen’s coffin today is in the same ballroom, draped in the Royal Standard, to allow staff to pay their respects 

The Ballroom at Balmoral Castle depicted above circa 1890. It has been a royal tradition to hold a dance for Balmoral staff in there since 1852 

In recent years, the ballroom at Balmoral has been used to host art exhibitions. There has not been a ball there since 2019 

The Royal Family including Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II at the Ghillies Ball in 1972

The Queen poses for a photograph in the drawing room at Balmoral shortly before her meeting with Ms Truss, whom she appointed as her Prime Minister

King Charles III is expected to address the nation today at 1pm. He is due to meet with Prime Minister Liz Truss beforehand. 

The Queen died yesterday afternoon at Balmoral with Charles and Princess Anne by her bedside. She was 96 years old and had reigned for 70 years – the longest of any monarch. 

Today, a national period of mourning begins. Thousands flocked to Buckingham Palace yesterday to lay flowers and messages of condolence. 

At one point, a rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’ rang out among the mourners, followed by cheers of ‘Long Live The King’.

Others laid flowers outside Windsor Castle – where The Queen had spent much of her time following the death of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, in April last year.

And in a sign of the Queen’s considerable worldwide influence and appeal, royal fans laid flowers outside British embassies including in Washington, Berlin and Oslo.

A man reacts in front of Buckingham Palace, following the passing of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, in London, Britain, September 9, 2022

Mourners gather at Buckingham Palace placing flowers and paying their respects on Friday 

Piccadilly Circus on Friday morning. The nation now begins a period of mourning that will last until the Queen’s funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday September 19

Huge crowds walk through Green Park towards Buckingham Palace Queen Elizabeth II on Friday morning 

Andrew, Edward, his wife Sophie, and William all flew in from Berkshire via private jet to Aberdeen yesterday as they dashed to Balmoral to see her. But it is understood that they did not make it in time

Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were already in Scotland at the time of the Monarch’s sudden turn for the worse, were able to make it in time to see her before her passing, sources say

Prince Harry is shown leaving Aberdeen on Friday morning. King Charles III is expected to return to London today 

Prince Harry (pictured), who was due to attend a charity event with wife Meghan in London last night, also attempted to reach Balmoral in time. But he arrived at 8pm, nearly an hour-and-a-half after the public were informed of the Queen’s death

Prince Harry was in mid air when Buckingham Palace announced the death of The Queen 

By Sam Greenhill for the Daily Mail 

Prince Harry was in mid air when Buckingham Palace announced the death of his beloved grandmother.

He flew by private jet from London, arriving at Balmoral an hour and a half after the historic statement.

Courtiers issued the declaration at 6.30pm – just over an hour after Prince William and other senior royals had arrived to join Prince Charles at the Queen’s residence.

But when the world was being told the saddest of news, Harry’s Cessna was still in the air, making its approach to Aberdeen Airport.

The Duke of Sussex’s flight had been due to land at 6.29pm, a minute before the statement. But it was 20 minutes late taking off from London’s Luton Airport – with flight data showing it departed at 5.35pm. It took one hour and 11 minutes to reach Aberdeen.

By the time he landed, at 6.46pm, it was 16 minutes after the palace had made the announcement.

Harry then faced a lonely drive to the castle, finally arriving at 7.52pm where he joined other members of the Royal Family in mourning the Queen’s death.

He looked ashen-faced on the back seat of the Range Rover as it swept into the Balmoral estate. As well as losing a beloved grandmother, he may have been reflecting on his future without her as monarch. She remained fond of him, in spite of recent challenges, and he was said to have retained an ability to make her laugh.

By the time he arrived, his and Meghan’s Archewell website homepage had been replaced with a respectful blacked-out page with the words: ‘In loving memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022.’

Earlier in the day there had been confusion over whether Meghan was also on her way to Scotland.

In the morning, it appeared they were both intending to visit Her Majesty’s residence – until changing the plan so that Harry went alone.

As senior royals dashed to the bedside, a spokesman for the Sussexes was widely reported to have announced that Meghan and Harry were on their way.

The possibility raised eyebrows behind palace doors, given the recent strained relations between the Sussexes and senior royals.

Meghan’s well-publicised accusations about racism in the Royal Family and alleging it did not support her in palace life overshadowed the Queen’s final days.

In contrast to the Sussexes, there was never any suggestion that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge would go together.

While William hastened north, Kate remained in London, where she was seen taking their children to their first full day at their new school.

Senior royals including William are said to have been avoiding his brother and wife amid concerns any encounters could provide material for the Duke of Sussex’s forthcoming book.

Although they live in California, the Sussexes have been in Europe this week on a mini ‘royal’-style tour, including an event in Germany for the duke’s forthcoming Invictus Games.

Last night they had been due to attend the WellChild Awards in London, which honours the brave deeds of seriously ill children.

They were not scheduled to see the Queen at all during their trip to the UK, but decided to go to Balmoral on hearing about Her Majesty’s health, it was reported yesterday morning.

However by the afternoon, the plan suddenly experienced a dramatic U-turn, with Meghan apparently no longer coming. A spokesman for the couple was widely reported as saying Meghan would now remain in London, although would not attend the WellChild awards. It was said the duchess could potentially join Harry in Scotland at a later date.

Harry and Meghan’s children Archie and Lilibet – named after the Queen – have stayed behind in the United States, and the couple were expected to return to them by the end of the week.

Earlier this week, one of the Sussexes’ favoured journalists claimed that Meghan and Harry still had not spoken to William and Kate, despite enjoying a day off from their tour, at Frogmore Cottage just 700 yards away from the latter pair’s Adelaide Cottage.

It was claimed this week that William had resolved not to speak to Harry until after his memoirs are released, fearing their conversation would appear on its pages.

The brothers now face seeing a lot of each other as they prepare for the Queen’s funeral.

 

Even the royal household’s staff were in tears yesterday, coming to terms with the loss of their much-loved boss, as well as the head of state.

One said: ‘However much you try to prepare yourself for this moment, it just hits you like a ton of bricks. She is irreplaceable. I just can’t believe we won’t see that impish smile again. There is a deep sense of shock.’

The Queen’s son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King Charles III, while Prince William has inherited his father’s title and is now, along with his wife, styled The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge. William is also now the ‘heir apparent’ to the British throne.

All Her Majesty’s children, as well as grandson Prince William, had rushed to Balmoral on Thursday after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Buckingham Palace released a statement at 12.32pm saying the Queen’s doctors were ‘concerned’ for her health and recommended she remain under medical supervision while family members were informed.

Charles was already at his mother’s side at her beloved Highland home after senior aides, fearing the worst, sent the Queen’s burgundy-liveried helicopter up from Windsor at 6.48am to collect him from Dumfries House in Ayrshire, where he had stayed the night after conducting several official engagements. He made it to Balmoral by 10.27am.

His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall – now Queen Consort, as Elizabeth II requested earlier this year – was already at Birkhall, the couple’s Scottish retreat, and was driven over by car to join him.

It is understood that the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was already with her mother as she had been undertaking engagements in the area.

Staff hurriedly arranged for a jet to collect the Queen’s other children – Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York – as well as the Countess of Wessex, whom the Queen adores and treats like a second daughter – and bring them up to Aberdeen.

Her grandson, Prince William joined them. His wife Kate remained with their three children, who have recently started a new school.

The sombre family group arrived in Scotland at 4pm, sweeping through the gates at Balmoral in a Range Rover driven by William at 5.06pm. Although Buckingham Palace has not confirmed the time of death, it is thought that they were unable to see their much-loved matriarch before she died.

By coincidence the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – now sadly estranged from most family members – were in Britain from their home in California and due to undertake a charity engagement in London before flying back home to their children.

There was confusion when their spokesman initially said that both Harry and Meghan would fly up to Balmoral to join the family, which caused surprise as spouses would normally be unlikely to join close relatives at a time of personal grief.

But it was later confirmed that Harry would travel alone and he finally arrived at his grandmother’s home at 7.52pm. He was still in the air when the death was confirmed.

The Queen’s death was finally announced at 6.32pm in a short black-edged statement from Buckingham Palace which read simply: ‘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.’

Today Operation London Bridge will swing into action, the period of ten days between the Queen’s death and her state funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday September 19, as the country is plunged into a period of official mourning.

The Queen’s coffin is expected to remain at Balmoral for at least the next two days before being flown back down to London next week.

But the pendulum to introduce His Majesty to his people will also begin to swing, with Charles and Camilla returning to London as King and Queen Consort today. He is expected to hold his Accession Council tomorrow.

Last night Miss Truss hosted a meeting of ministers, police and royal officials to discuss arrangements for the period of mourning leading up to the Queen’s funeral.

The Union flag on Buckingham Palace was poignantly lowered to half-mast yesterday, while a framed plaque of the statement announcing the Queen’s death was placed on the front gates by royal household staff.

The Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast, even after the Queen’s death, as there is always a monarch on the throne. Flags will fly at half-mast on UK Government buildings in tribute to the Queen from now until the morning after her funeral.

The Queen’s death will see Britain and her Commonwealth realms enter into a ten-day period of mourning as millions of her subjects in the UK and abroad come to terms with her passing. 

A number of big events have already been cancelled, including the BBC’s Proms and its famous crescendo, Last Night of the Proms, which were due to take place on Friday and Saturday.

Charles, who will reign as King Charles III, said yesterday: ‘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. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.

‘During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.’

Tributes yesterday poured in for Her Majesty, to many the greatest Briton in history and undoubtedly the most famous woman on earth. To billions around the world she was the very face of Britishness.

Liz Truss hailed the Queen, saying in a statement: ‘Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is because of her.’ 

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said the Queen was ‘more than a monarch’ and that she ‘defined an era’. 

A White House statement said: ‘In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. She, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service’.

And in a surprising release from the Kremlin, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last night paid tribute, saying the Queen commanded ‘love, respect’ and ‘authority on world stage’. The Queen met Putin on several occasions during her reign, the last in 2003. 

To her subjects at home, Her Majesty was the nation’s anchor, holding firm no matter what storm she or her country was facing – from the uncertain aftermath of the Second World War to, more recently, the pandemic. 

She was also steadfast as she dealt with tragedies and scandals in her own family, most recently the fallout from Megxit and the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip.

Charles will embark on a tour of the UK before his mother’s funeral with his wife Camilla, who the Queen announced would be crowned her eldest son’s Queen Consort in an historic statement to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne on February 6.

The country’s longest reigning Monarch died ‘peacefully’ yesterday, aged 96, at the Balmoral Estate, surrounded by her family. Her death sparked an immediate and huge outpouring of emotion, with thousands of mourners gathering outside the gates of Buckingham Palace this evening (pictured)

Mourners carry Union Flags as they sit on the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the death of the Queen

Taxies lined up on The Mall in central London, following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II

A woman becomes emotional speaking outside Buckingham Palace after Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, died aged 96, in London

Police officers guard a notice announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth II, pictured on the railings outside of Buckingham Palace after the announcement of her death

Tributes were paid, not just in the UK, but abroad as well. Pictured: People light candles and lay flowers outside the British embassy in Oslo, Norway

People pay their respects in front the British embassy in Berlin, Germany following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II

Tributes have taken place across the world, including in Washington, in the US, where flowers have been laid over a Union Flag outside the British Embassy


Pictured left: US President Joe Biden (L) signs the condolence book as he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden (R) visit the British Embassy in Washington. Pictured right: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses a press conference after the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II

A rainbow appears above the Queen Victoria Memorial as people gather in front of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, shortly before the Queen’s death was announced

The Union flag flies half mast as people gather at Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the death of The Queen, at the age of 96

What will happen now that the Queen has died? 

Today Operation London Bridge will swing into action, the period of ten days between the Queen’s death and her state funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday September 19, as the country is plunged into a period of official mourning.

The Queen’s coffin is expected to remain at Balmoral for at least the next two days before being flown back down to London next week.

But the pendulum to introduce His Majesty to his people will also begin to swing, with Charles and Camilla returning to London as King and Queen Consort today. 

He is expected to hold his Accession Council tomorrow.

Last night Miss Truss hosted a meeting of ministers, police and royal officials to discuss arrangements for the period of mourning leading up to the Queen’s funeral.

The Queen’s passing came more than a year after that of her beloved husband Philip, her ‘strength and guide’, who died aged 99 in April 2021.

Since his funeral, where she poignantly sat alone because of lockdown restrictions, her own health faltered, and she was forced to miss an increasing number of events mainly due to ‘mobility problems’ and tiredness.

In July she travelled to Scotland for her annual summer break, but cancelled her traditional welcome to Balmoral Castle in favour of a small more private event because of her health, believed to be linked to her ability to stand.

And at the end of July, Prince Charles represented his mother and opened the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the Duchess of Cornwall. In late August Queen missed the Braemar Gathering – the first time she was not at the Highland Games in her 70-year reign.

But she was well enough to meet with Boris Johnson at Balmoral to accept his resignation, before asking the 15th Prime Minister of her reign, Liz Truss, to form a Government. Her Majesty, who stood with the support of a stick and smiled as she greeted Ms Truss in front of a roaring fire, had not been seen in public for two months. It would be her final picture.

Yesterday, all her children and Prince William flew into Scotland from all over the UK to get to Her Majesty’s bedside before she died. Prince Harry did not travel to Scotland from Windsor with his family – and Meghan Markle stayed at Frogmore Cottage.

But he did not make it to Balmoral in time and landed in Aberdeen around 15 minutes after the death of his grandmother was announced. He arrived at the castle just before 8pm – around an hour-and-half after the public announcement, to join his father, brother and other mourners.

All Her Majesty’s children had rushed to Balmoral on Thursday after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Hours later she died, surrounded by her family. Pictured: The death of The Queen was announced at 6.30pm yesterday via the Royal Family’s official Twitter account

Her Majesty the Queen – Britain’s longest-reigning monarch – has died peacefully at Balmoral aged 96. Her son Charles, is now king. He will remain at Balmoral tonight before returning to London with the Queen Consort, Camilla

King Charles III released this poignant statement reacting to the death of his ‘beloved mother’ as he took the throne yesterday

The Queen welcomes Liz Truss during an audience where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government on Tuesday. It would be the final photo of the monarch, who did her duty to the end

Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign is unlikely to ever be surpassed by another king or queen of England

It began when Princess Elizabeth was formally proclaimed Queen on February 8, 1952. She was crowned in Westminster Abbey (pictured) on June 2, 1953 – by coincidence the same day a joyous nation learned a Commonwealth team had conquered Mount Everest

Prince Charles boards a helicopter from Dumfries House as all the Queen’s children gathered at her bedside after a warning from doctors about her health. Hours later he would be king

Prince William drives Prince Andrew, Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward into Balmoral

Prince Harry arrives at Balmoral alone this evening. His grandmother’s death was announced while he was in the air on a private jet to Aberdeen

The death of Queen Elizabeth II: A timeline of how yesterday’s sad events played out

12.35pm: A statement is released by Buckingham Palace, announcing that the Queen is under medical supervision at Balmoral after doctors became ‘concerned for her health’. A Palace spokesperson said: ‘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.’

12.47pm: A statement is released by Clarence House, confirming that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla would travel to Balmoral. It said: ‘The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have travelled to Balmoral’. 

12.48pm: A minute later, Kensington Palace announces that Price William will be travelling to Balmoral. The statement read: ‘The Duke of Cambridge is also travelling to Balmoral.’

1.37pm: It is reported that Prince Andrew has travelled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland following news that doctors were concerned for The Queen’s health.

1.38pm: Sources confirm to the Press Association (PA) that The Princess Royal is at Balmoral, and the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex are on their way to the Queen’s Scottish home. 

1.55pm: A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirms that the couple will be ‘travelling to Scotland’. While the initial statement mentioned ‘Scotland’, it did not make directly make mention of Balmoral.  The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were due to attend the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday evening, but changed their plans to travel to see the Queen.

4.14pm: A news alert by the Press Association (PA) said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were believed to be travelling to Balmoral ‘separately’ from other royals. 

4.39pm: Less than 30 minutes later, PA issue another news alert, quoting an unnamed source, saying that that the Duchess of Sussex would not travel to Balmoral with the Duke of Sussex. The source said that Prince Harry would be making the trip by himself. A source said the Duchess could potentially join Harry in Scotland at a later date, following what PA described as a ‘change of plan’.

6.30pm: The Royal Family announces via social media site Twitter that The Queen has died ‘peacefully’ at Balmoral at the age of 96. 

After 6.30pm: Prince Harry is believed to have arrived at Balmoral following the public announcement 

Liz Truss stepped out of No 10 and to the podium on Downing Street at 7.07pm, dressed in black, to address the nation following the Queen’s death.

Ms Truss was appointed as Prime Minister by the Queen at Balmoral only two days ago.

She said: ‘We are all devastated by the news that we have just heard from Balmoral. The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world.’

Liz Truss then revealed that the new King would be Charles III. There had been suggestions he might rule as King George VII, using one of his middle names.

She said: ‘It’s 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.

‘In return she was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

‘She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons – her devotion to duty is an example to us all.’

Liz Truss said: ‘Earlier this week at 96, she remained determined to carry out her duties as she appointed me as her 15th Prime Minister.

‘Throughout her life she’s visited more than 100 countries and she’s touched the lives of millions around the world.

‘In the difficult days ahead we will come together with our friends across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world to celebrate her extraordinary lifetime of service.

‘It is a day of great loss but Queen Elizabeth II leaves a great legacy.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said his ‘prayers are with the King and the royal family’ as he mourns the death of the Queen, whose ‘steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are’.

‘As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society,’ Justin Welby said in a statement.

‘As we sustain one another in the face of this challenge, our shared grieving will also be a work of shared re-imagining. I pray that we commence this journey with a sense of Her late Majesty’s faith and confidence in the future.

‘In the late Queen’s life, we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and – through patient, humble, selfless service – share it as a gift to others.

‘The late Queen leaves behind a truly extraordinary legacy: one that is found in almost every corner of our national life, as well as the lives of so many nations around the world, and especially in the Commonwealth.

‘It was my great privilege to meet her late Majesty on many occasions. Her clarity of thinking, capacity for careful listening, inquiring mind, humour, remarkable memory and extraordinary kindness invariably left me conscious of the blessing that she has been to us all.’

The official announcement of the Queen’s passing was displayed on the gates of Buckingham Palace this evening


Pictured left: HMS Prince of Wales flag at half mast, out of respect for the Queen who died yesterday. Pictured right: The Union Flag is seen at half-mast on the pavilion at the Oval after it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away


Pictured left: The Union Flag on Windsor Castle was flying at half mast this evening following the sad news that Queen Elizabeth II has died Floral Tributes for Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor, Berkshire. Pictured right: The Union flag Jack flies at half mast at Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland. The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon, Buckingham Palace has announced


Pictured left: The Royal Banner of Scotland above the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is flown at half mast following the announcement of the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Pictured right: A Union Flag flies at half mast at Buckingham Palace, after Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, died aged 96

Digital advertising boards at bus stops adorned with images of Queen Elizabeth II are seen following her death

The Post Office Tower with a display commemorating The Queen following her death, at the age of 96, at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland

Prince William led the way off the plane (circled left) followed by Edward and Sophie (pictured centre) and finally Prince Andrew (pictured right) as they raced to Balmoral

One of the Royal Family’s helicopters landed at Balmoral this morning, believed to be carrying Prince Charles and Camilla. All the Queen’s children rushed to be there

Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, leaves Windsor Castle as she stayed behind in England where her three children are having their first day at school

A statement about the Queen’s health is exceptionally rare and raises major concerns. She died hours later

The Queen arrives at Balmoral Castle for the start of her summer break on July 21 

The Queen is seen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Jubilee pageant in June with her son Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis

Queen Elizabeth II stands as Prince Louis covers his ears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade on June 2, 2022

Prince William is now the heir apparent – and the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge 

Prince William is now heir to the throne of the United Kingdom after Prince Charles’s accession following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The 40-year-old is now Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge and is expected to become the new Prince of Wales, with his wife Kate Middleton taking on the new title of the Princess of Wales.

William is the oldest royals among the top eight in line, and is followed by his three children Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four.

Charles is now effectively king, although he is expected to be officially proclaimed as the monarch at an Accession Council meeting at St James’s Palace in London.

Since the Prince of Wales title isn’t Charles’s per se, but rather given to the heir apparent, he will vacate it the moment he ascends to the throne.

However, there is no automatic succession to the Prince of Wales title – the heir apparent has to be created Prince of Wales by the monarch.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said the death of the Queen would leave a ‘void’ and ‘this is our country’s saddest day’.

‘As is so natural with human beings, it is only when we face the reality of our loss that we truly understand what has gone,’ he said.

‘It is only really now that we grasp how much she meant for us, how much she did for us, how much she loved us.

‘As we think of the void she leaves, we understand the vital role she played, selflessly and calmly embodying the continuity and unity of our country.

‘We think of her deep wisdom, and historic understanding, and her seemingly inexhaustible but understated sense of duty.

‘Relentless though her diary must have felt, she never once let it show, and to tens of thousands of events – great and small – she brought her smile and her warmth and her gentle humour – and for an unrivalled 70 years she spread that magic around her kingdom.

‘This is our country’s saddest day because she had a unique and simple power to make us happy. That is why we loved her.

‘That is why we grieve for Elizabeth the Great, the longest serving and in many ways the finest monarch in our history.’

In June Her Majesty missed every day of Royal Ascot for the first time since her coronation in 1953. A month earlier she was forced to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, due to what her spokesman described as ‘episodic mobility problems’ which they said she was continuing to experience. 

But despite her frailty, she continued to receive her daily Red Box from Downing Street containing Government paperwork to read and sign and continued engagements to the end – most significantly with the memorial service for her late husband at Westminster Abbey at the end of March and her appearances over the course of her Platinum Jubilee weekend in early June. 


The then Princess Elizabeth is seen above left posing in a ballet outfit in 1932, and right making her first Christmas broadcast in 1952

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in an official wedding photograph taken on their wedding day in 1947

Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during their honeymoon in Malta in 1947

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands in this picture released on November 18, 2007

April 17, 2021: Queen Elizabeth II during the funeral of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh at St George’s Chapel in Windsor

The Queen beams as she visits the Royal College of Physicians in London in 2018. Her Majesty carried out hundreds of engagements every year until her health began to fail

The Queen and her husband Prince Philip laugh together as they welcome Poland’s then president Alexandre Kwasniewski and his wife Jolanta Kwasniewska

Before Her Majesty’s death, the past two years had been hugely challenging and upsetting for the ageing monarch. She was forced to cut adrift Prince Andrew, reputedly her favourite son, after he initially fought then settled a civil case with Virginia Roberts Giuffre for up to £12million. Ms Giuffre, a sex slave of Jeffrey Epstein, accused the Duke of York of sexually abusing her. His mother stripped him of his titles – but there was a show of support weeks later when he was with her from start to finish at Philip’s Westminster Abbey memorial service.

And there was continuing grief for the Queen because of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to quit as frontline royals – and the soap opera this brought with it – including the public rift with Charles and Prince William. She was however able to meet their daughter Lilibet – who was named after her with the nickname used by George VI and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh – when the family came to the UK for the Platinum Jubilee in June but barely took part. 

However, as the Jubilee celebrations kicked off with Trooping the Colour, the Queen delighted tens of thousands of Britons who had packed The Mall by appearing twice on the Buckingham Palace balcony with senior members of her family, including Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton. 

She then headed to Windsor to symbolically light the first in a chain of beacons stretching around the UK and across the world, brushing off previously announced ‘discomfort’ that forced her to miss the next day’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

And Her Majesty shocked even members of her own family by appearing alongside Paddington Bear in a sketch to kick off the Platinum Party at the Palace gig on June 3.

On the last day of the Jubilee celebrations, after a majestic pageant depicting every decade of Her Majesty’s reign had processed a long a two-mile route, the Queen appeared for a final time on the Buckingham Palace balcony, delighting the millions watching on in person and on TV.

The Queen undergoes training as a Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945


The Queen smiles as she leaves for Kenya on 31 January 1952, pictured left, but looks sombre as she returns home following the death of her father, right

February 1952: Princess Elizabeth and Philip in Kenya in the gardens of the Sagana Lodge, which she was given as a wedding present, on the day before he told her her father, George VI, was dead

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip with their two children Prince Charles and Princess Anne in 1951

The Queen is photographed on June 2, 1953 smiling after her Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London

A photo at Buckingham Palace to mark the engagement of Princess Elizabeth (later the Queen) and Philip Mountbatten (later Duke of Edinburgh) in July 1947, with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, King George VI and Princess Margaret

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II conversing with her father, King George VI  in a garden on July 8, 1946

Elizabeth, the first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, is pictured in 1942 with her parents, and sister Margaret

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother with Princess Margaret and Elizabeth at Windsor Castle in June 1936


Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) with her daughters Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in an undated shot (left); and (right) the two sisters pose in their Brownie uniforms in a shot from the 1930s

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh travel on the new Eurostar train between England and France on May 6, 1994

The Queen poses with former prime ministers (left to right) James Callaghan, Alec Douglas-Home, Margaret Thatcher, Harold MacMillan and Edward Heath with Queen Elizabeth II at 10 Downing Street on December 11, 1985

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 1980

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother celebrates her 80th birthday in the company of Queen Elizabeth II on August 4, 1980

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wear safety glasses at University College Hospital London on May 27, 2012

The Queen and Prince Philip wave as they leave Westminster Abbey after Prince William and Kate’s wedding in April 2011

As Charles put it on her 80th birthday, his beloved ‘mama’ had been ‘a figure of reassuring calm and dependability – an example to so many of service, duty and devotion, in a world of sometimes bewildering change and disorientation’. As king his reign begins at a time where the monarchy will be destablised by his mother’s death after her seven decades on the throne. He plans to slim down the number of taxpayer-funded royals because he realises that the public don’t want to pay for a huge Monarchy, insiders have said.

The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, thrust on the rather shy and tentative 25-year-old while on a royal tour of Kenya with her beloved husband and soul mate Prince Philip following the death of her father George VI, who was her idol.

Later in life, Elizabeth looked back to her young adulthood, when she faced the daunting prospect of, in the near future, leading a Britain still reeling after the Second World War.  ‘When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people, and asked for God’s help to make that vow,’ she recalled. ‘Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.’  

Nobody could have predicted that she would have reigned for 70 years, helping steer the country through crisis after crisis as well leading the Windsors through choppy waters that at times threatened the future and integrity of the Royal Family right up until her death.

Charles will now face the difficult task of following his mother.  

Those who knew the Queen as a child described a serious and loyal daddy’s girl who idolised her father, who at the time of her birth had no desire to be King George VI or make his beloved eldest daughter his heir to the throne.

Baby Elizabeth, with her blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, entered the world at 2.40am on April 26 1926 in a Mayfair townhouse to her proud parents Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Within a decade the Yorks would be Britain’s most reluctant king and queen after the abdication of Edward VIII.

Her Majesty was a curious and bright girl, described by Winston Churchill as a ‘character’ at the age of two, while her governess later wrote of a love of animals and dedication to responsibility that would see her reign for seven decades. 

In fact, when she went on her first overseas tour, accompanying her parents to Africa in 1947, she famously said: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’ 

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary arrived into the world at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in London’s Mayfair in the year of the General Strike. Above, the future monarch with her parents at her christening ceremony in May that year

One of the earliest known portraits of Princess Elizabeth, taken in 1926 when the future monarch was just a few weeks old. A bulletin announcing her birth was issued to the Press. It read: ‘The Duchess of York has had some rest since this arrival of her daughter. Her Royal Highness and the infant Princess are making very satisfactory progress’

HRH Duchess of York poses with the young Princess Elizabeth on December 2, 1926. The young princess was never set to be Queen, but circumstances intervened when her uncle, who was briefly King Edward VIII, abdicated so he could marry divorcee Wallis Simpson

Princess Elizabeth is taken for a stroll in the park. The little girl captured the nation’s hearts as soon as she was born, becoming known as Lillibet when she found her name hard to pronounce

These two photographs show HM the Queen (right) and HRH  Princess Anne (left) when they were very young. It is hard to tell the mother and daughter apart. Both photographs were taken by the same photographer, the late Marcus Adams

The Princess, who was given the nickname Lilibet when she found Elizabeth difficult to pronounce, was bright, well-behaved, methodical and tidy. Elizabeth is pictured sitting on a bench with her father George, Duke of York. They were then living at 145 Piccadilly. The Princess lived there with her parents and sister until 1936. The property was later destroyed in the Second World War 

The remains of 145 Piccadilly are seen in 1945, after it had been largely destroyed by German bombs during the Second World War. The palatial home boasted a dining room that could accommodate 30 guests and also boasted a ballroom, library and more than 20 bedrooms


Elizabeth, Duchess of York poses (left) in the garden of the Royal Lodge at Windsor in 1936 with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret; and (right) the future monarch looks happy posing in a ballet outfit in 1932

The Royal Family at Windsor, in the 1930s: King George VI with his daughters and their pet dogs outside Y Bwthyn Bach (The Little House), the gift of the Welsh people to Princess Elizabeth (standing by the window). Princess Margaret is seated on the wall with a dog on her lap and Queen Elizabeth looks on from inside the cottage

July 1936: Princess Elizabeth sitting on a garden seat with two corgi dogs at her home on 145 Piccadilly, London. Her love for animals was apparent from a young age

King George V (centre) with Queen Mary and the Princesses Elizabeth (shaking hands) and Princess Margaret (far right) at Brae Mar, Scotland, 1935

The Duchess of York took Elizabeth and Margaret to see a daylight dress rehearsal of the Aldershot Tattoo. Here Princess Elizabeth greets the officer of the guard while Princess Margaret alights from the car at Rushmoor Arena

12th September 1937: The royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the coronation of King George VI (1895 – 1952). He is with Queen Elizabeth (1900 – 2002), Princess Elizabeth (waving) and Princess Margaret

Princess Elizabeth with the Queen Mother on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after the coronation of King George VI

A family portrait, as Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret join their mother and father for a picture in 1937, when the Queen was 11-years-old

Lord Elphinstone (left) greeting the British Royal Family; (L-R) Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess Elizabeth and King George VI (far right), at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, July 5 1937

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary arrived into the world at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street (pictured) in London’s Mayfair in the year of the General Strike

Princess Elizabeth feeding an elephant during a visit to London Zoo, 1939. Her duties began at the early age of 12 when she became president of the Children’s League of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Shadwell

Queen Elizabeth with her daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret by a syringa bush in the grounds of Windsor Castle in July, 1941

Princess Elizabeth of England (future queen Elizabeth II) young wearing girl scout uniform (member of the Buckingham Palace Company of Girl Guides) in 1943

Prince Elizabeth (pictured left) and her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose, prepare to release a carrier pigeon with a message to Chief Guide Lady Olave Baden-Powell on her late husband’s birthday on February 20, 1943

Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) and Princess Elizabeth, are pictured here in the Royal Procession at Ascot on June 15, 1951

Princess Elizabeth, aged seven, stands next to her sister Princess Margaret, who is two, at the time. Princess Elizabeth would later become Queen Elizabeth II

What happens now the Queen has died? 

The death of the Queen in Scotland has triggered contingency plans known as Operation Unicorn.

Part of the long-held so-called London Bridge arrangements for the aftermath of Elizabeth’s death, Unicorn sets in motion additional ceremonial events in Edinburgh ahead of the logistics of moving the Queen’s coffin back to London.

The Earl Marshal who is in charge of the plans will, along with royal aides and the Government, be rapidly adjusting the overarching timetable to incorporate the Scottish element, as the military, clergy and police turn their attention to the immense practicalities.

The Royal Family has already made the urgent dash to Balmoral, with Charles – the new king – and the Queen’s other children the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex at the monarch’s bedside.

Prince Charles, 73, is now effectively king although protocol dictates that he is proclaimed as the new monarch the day after the Queen’s death.

This will take place at a meeting of the Accession Council, which usually gathers at St James’s Palace in London. The codename for King Charles’s accession to the throne is Operation Spring Tide.

Members of the royal family will be expected in the coming days to hold a poignant vigil around the Queen’s coffin in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Also at Balmoral are the Duke of Cambridge, now the heir to the throne, and Camilla – the new Queen, and the Countess of Wessex. Initially, the Queen’s coffin is expected to be at rest in the Ballroom at Balmoral.

The Scottish Parliament will be suspended, with Her Majesty’s body expected to first be taken to Edinburgh on the Royal Train in a journey lasting more than five hours to lie at rest overnight in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Queen’s coffin will then be put on the Royal Train once again and be taken back to Buckingham Palace in London.

Once Her Majesty’s body is back at Buckingham Palace, there will be eight further days of the official period of mourning that will end with her funeral at Westminster Abbey.

Nobody could have predicted that she would have reigned for 70 years, helping steer the country through crisis after crisis as well leading the Windsors through choppy waters that at times threatened the future and integrity of the Royal Family right up until her death.  

And after Prince Philip’s passing, Her Majesty’s health quickly began to suffer. 

In October 2021 the Queen spent a rare night in hospital after doctors sent her for tests, forcing her to apologetically miss a visit to Northern Ireland. 

She had worked ten of the previous 20 days, and was back at her desk within hours of being discharged, despite having to cancel an appearance at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Concerns for the nation’s longest reigning sovereign had been heightened in recent months given her age, frailer appearance of late and positive Covid-19 test on February 20, 2022. 

She had to cancel a series of engagements including virtual audiences after suffering from ‘mild, cold-like symptoms’.

The Queen had to rest for three months on doctors’ orders, and had also been regularly seen using a walking stick. 

She remarked during a Windsor Castle audience in February 2022: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’

She would later admit that Covid had left her exhausted. 

But even while suffering from poor health, she continued with ‘light duties’ as head of state – including working from her red boxes, sent to her every day and containing policy papers, Foreign Office telegrams, letters and other State papers which had to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed. 

There were also countless virtual engagements. 

When she missed the State Opening of Parliament, it was the first time she had done so since 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Edward. The only previous occasion was when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959.

In her place, Prince Charles, who was accompanied by Prince William, read her speech for the first time as the Queen watched on TV from Windsor Castle, but the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords remained symbolically empty. 

Days after missing the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen was clapped and cheered as she attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show over successive days, watching an all-star lineup that included Dame Helen Mirren, Tom Cruise and Katherine Jenkins perform. 

Her Majesty, who looked cheerful and well, was given a standing ovation as she walked to her seat despite her recent frailty, surprising those who believed she may miss the event altogether. 

Princess Elizabeth being made a Bachelor of Music of London University, July 10, 1946, at a ceremony at the Senate House, when the Chancellor, the Earl of Athlone, her great uncle, presided. Music has long been one of the Princess’s great interests

Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret Rose with their nannies, left, Clara Knight, known as ‘Allah’ and right Margaret ‘Bobo’ Macdonald in 1932


Princess Elizabeth (pictured left) poses in her girl guide uniform in Frogmore, Windsor, England on April 11, 1942. Princess Elizabeth (pictured right) in a car on the way to London King’s Cross to catch a train to Sandringham in 1936

Princess Elizabeth poses for a photograph with a pony at Windsor Great Park in Berkshire on April 21, 1939

The Queen’s relationship with the Armed Forces began when, as Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945, becoming the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member (she is pictured next to an Army ambulance during WWII). During her time in the ATS, the Princess learnt to drive and to maintain vehicles. Since then, The Queen has maintained a close relationship with the Armed Forces through regular visits to service establishments and ships. She holds many military appointments and honorary ranks

The Queen walks through the Sagana lodge in Kenya alongside Sir Philip Mitchell, Governor of Kenya, a few hours after receiving the news her father had died on 6 February 1952

Elizabeth’s father King George VI, her mother Queen Elizabeth and sister Princess Margaret at London Airport to wave her off  ahead of the tour. He died six days later.

The Queen learns of her father’s death – and the beginning of her reign – while returning from Kenya in 1952, in private footage believed to have been filmed on the plane by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was first shown in a BBC documentary in 2012

The Queen was crowned with the St Edward’s Crown and her coronation dress, by couturier Norman Hartnell, was a white satin gown encrusted with diamonds, gold and silver bullion, seed pearls and crystals.

One of the first pictures of the new born Prince Andrew shows the baby in the Queen Elizabeth II’s arms, on March 22 1960

The Queen poses with Prince Edward, on June 13 1964. Prince Edward was the Queen’s fourth and final child. He was born when she was 38 

The Queen is pictured with Terracotta Army soldier statues at the Qin Shi Huang’s Museum on her first visit to China

The Queen With the Russia’s president Boris Yeltsin in Red Square, Moscow, in 1994. Her Majesty undertook hundreds of visits to foreign countries during her reign but made only that single visit to Russia

A shocked Queen Elizabeth II inspects damage to Windsor Castle with a fireman after a restorers lamp ignited a curtain causing a devastating fire in 1992

The Royal Family was engulfed by scandal and its future was at risk over its handling of the death of Princess Diana in 1997

Her Majesty looks at the Queen Mother’s coffin at Westminster Abbey during her final. She died in March 2002 aged 101. She was buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor, next to her husband King George VI

She appeared to wipe away tears while talking to Viscount Linley at the funeral of her sister Princess Margaret in 2002 – In the space of just seven weeks the Queen’s younger sister and then her 101-year-old mother, the Queen Mother, died

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ride in the Golden State Carriage at the head of a parade from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II sits in the Regency Room at Buckingham Palace in London as she looks at some of the cards which have been sent to her for her 80th birthday in 2006

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on stage at the end of the show Children’s party to celebrate her 80th Birthday on June 25 2006

Her Majesty shakes hands with former IRA commander and later Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness – the man many said ordered the murder of her beloved Lord Louis Mountbatten 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, kisses his mother as she arrives to attend a 90th Birthday Celebration show at Windsor Castle on May 15, 2016

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to guests attending ‘The Patron’s Lunch’ celebrations for The Queen’s 90th birthday on The Mall on June 12, 2016

Prince William and his new bride Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, bow in front of Queen Elizabeth II during their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011

Her Majesty speaks with Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge as they arrive with their son Prince George at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, Wednesday Oct. 23, 2013

The Queen is seen with Prince Philip as Meghan Markle sits shortly after marrying Prince Harry in Windsor in May 2018 

Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. She sat alone, in a mask, due to Covid restrictions

2022 — The Queen meets the incoming and outgoing Defence Service Secretaries at Windsor Castle on February 16, 2022

The Daily Mail reporting the news of the then Princess Elizabeth’s birth

The monarch then caused further surprise just a couple of days later when she unexpectedly visited Paddington Station in London to officially open the Elizabeth line with her youngest son Prince Edward, who had been scheduled to attend on his own. 

Her Majesty used a walking stick but was steady on her feet as she was shown how to top up an Oyster card. 

At the Chelsea Flower Show, the Queen refused to let her mobility problems stop her from attending as she toured the event in a chauffer-driven golf buggy. 

But it was over the Platinum Jubilee weekend in early June that the Queen really displayed her commitment to duty.

On the day of Trooping the Colour on June 2, 2022, she appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony with senior royals including Prince Charles and Prince William. 

Also present was the Duchess of Cambridge and her and William’s children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. 

Her Majesty beamed as 71 aircraft took part in a flypast above Buckingham Palace as part of the tributes to her. 

In a sign of the toll that the appearances had had on her, a spokesman said later that day that due to ‘discomfort’ she had suffered, she would miss the next day’s Service of Thanksgiving. 

But she was still able to head to Windsor Castle that evening to symbolically launch more than 3,500 flaming tributes to her 70-year reign. 

The event formed part of a dual ceremony with her grandson the Duke of Cambridge, who was waiting 22 miles away at Buckingham Palace where the centrepiece of the beacon chain – a 68-foot ‘Tree of Trees’ sculpture – was illuminated. 

The Daily Mail published the first pictures of the newborn Princess Elizabeth in the month after she was born. Above: She is seen in a cot being watched over by her mother

The Queen and heir to the throne Prince Charles, dressed in full military uniform, welcomed a small number of healthcare professionals to the ornate confines of Windsor Castle on July 12

Beaming in blue! The Queen is all smiles as she attends the Royal Company of Archers Reddendo Parade in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 30

On June 27, the Queen made her first public appearance since the Platinum Jubilee. She was in Edinburgh for thehistoric Ceremony of the Keys – the traditional opener to Holyrood week for the Royal Family

The 96-year-old monarch was seen giving a wave to a group of children as she rolled up to Windsor Castle in a dark-green Range Rover on May 31

This month, the Queen was forced to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, due to what her spokesman described as ‘episodic mobility problems’ which they said she was continuing to experience. In her place, Prince Charles, who was accompanied by Prince William, read her speech for the first time, but the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords remained symbolically empty

The Queen held onto Prince Andrew’s elbow with her left hand and had a walking stick in her right at Westminster Abbey on March 29

The Queen with her eldest son Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall ahead of the annual Order of the Garter service at St George’s Chapel on June 13, 2022

The Queen pictured being driven in a royal Range Rover on her 96th birthday, which she celebrated at Sandringham on April 21, 2022

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Louis of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on June 5, 2022

The Queen leads the lighting of the principal beacon at Windsor Castle  as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations on June 2, 2022

The Queen shocked even members of her own family by appearing alongside Paddington Bear in a sketch to kick off the Platinum Party at the Palace gig

The Queen delighted millions of viewers by appearing in a surprise comic sketch with Paddington Bear to kick-start the Party In The Palace Platinum Jubilee concert on June 4

The celebrations involved a flypast from 71 aircraft, with senior members of the Royal Family watching from the Buckingham Palace balcony. Above: The Red Arrows trail red, white and blue smoke at the end of the flypast 

Members of the public fill The Mall ahead of a flypast over Buckingham Palace, during the Trooping the Color in London, Thursday, June 2, 2022

Prince Harry and Meghan made a low key appearance at the first day of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. They were seen on a balcony on Horse Guards Parade, after being denied a place on the Buckingham Palace balcony due to the fact they are no longer working royals 

The Queen is seen with her eldest son Prince Charles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Her Majesty poses with her son and representatives from the NHS whom she had awarded the George Cross

The next day, The Queen watched on television as her family and hundreds of other guests packed into St Paul’s to pay tribute to her. 

It was Harry and Meghan’s first joint engagement in two years, but the couple were kept apart from Prince William, Kate, Prince Charles and Camilla and left separately. 

It was announced that day that Her Majesty, a keen horse racing fan, would also miss the Epsom Derby, an event she has attended on dozens of occasions throughout her reign. 

On the final day of the celebrations, a two-mile pageant told the story of her life, and the nation, with an eccentric and imaginative carnival-like display.

The Queen appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony at the end of the day, where she watched a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. 

Her Majesty was seen turning to Prince George and asking: ‘Wow! Did you expect that?’ after the anthem rendition. 

In a message of thanks after her appearance, she acknowledged her absences in previous days but said her ‘heart’ had been with well-wishers. 

In a further sign of her devotement to duty, she also said she remained ‘committed to serving’ the nation to ‘the best of my ability’ – a promise she kept. 

Her reign will define the British monarchy for centuries. In 2015 she passed Victoria to be Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and at her death was both the longest-reigning and the oldest-ever ruler in the 1,100-year history of the English crown. Her 73-year marriage to Philip was the longest for a sovereign.

The Queen took such records in her stride. On turning 80, she quoted Groucho Marx:  ‘Anyone can get old,’ she said. ‘All you have to do is live long enough.’

Queen Elizabeth II seen on Monday, April 25 – the week after she celebrated her 96th birthday – being driven on the Sandringham Estate. The Queen has been staying on the Sandringham Estate since arriving by helicopter in mid April

The Queen attends an audience with Switzerland’s president Ignazio Cassis at Windsor Castle on April 28

A new portrait of the Queen released by The Royal Windsor Horse Show to mark the occasion of her 96th birthday

The Queen with her youngest son Prince Edward opening the Elizabeth Line of Crossrail at Paddington Station earlier in May 

Above: the Queen visiting the Chelsea Flower Show in May. She appeared at the event in a chauffeur-driven golf buggy

February 4, 2022: In photos released to mark Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne, The Queen paid tribute to her father, choosing to wear the aquamarine and diamond clip brooches he gifted her for her 18th birthday in April 1944.

May 11, 2021: Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceeds through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London

Queen Elizabeth II is given a tour by Keith Weed, President of the Royal Horticultural Society during a visit to The Chelsea Flower Show on May 23

March 9, 2020: (From left) The Queen, Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, Prince William and Kate at Westminster Abbey

The Queen held onto Prince Andrew’s elbow with her left hand and had a walking stick in her right at Westminster Abbey on March 29, 2022

November 17, 2020: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, looking at their homemade wedding anniversary card, given to them by their great grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, ahead of their 73rd wedding anniversary on November 20

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are photographed at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands in 1972

The Queen and Princess Anne attend a function at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna during a State Visit to Austria on May 7, 1969

Through such longevity Elizabeth inevitably experienced personal lows as well as great national highs, but won deeper admiration for the stoicism she showed in the face of adversity and her ability to remain untainted by scandals that occasionally engulfed her family.

She famously declared 1992 her ‘annus horribilis’, after it saw a devastating fire gut Windsor Castle and the marriages of her children Anne, Charles and Andrew all falter.

Five years later she steered the Crown through its gravest crisis since the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, when Princess Diana was killed in a Paris car crash.

And in the last years of her life she faced her grandson Harry exiting royal life and entering into a war of words with ‘The Firm’ after moving to California with wife Meghan rather than continue living in Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. 

The Sussexes also carried out a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, and Harry is planning to release a tell-all book.

In January 2020 the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shocked the world by announcing their intention to step down as senior royals.

Buckingham Palace said all were ‘saddened’ by their decision to permanently step down as working royals, but they remained ‘much loved members of the family’.

A statement added that the Queen had ‘written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.

But the Sussexes hit back with a statement of their own, saying: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

Sex allegations dogged her second son Andrew, the Duke of York, who settled his legal battle in New York with accuser Virginia Giuffre in February 2022 without the civil case having to go to trial. But the Queen also had to ensure he was removed from royal life and stripped him of his honorary military titles.

Besides his appearance at the memorial service for Prince Philip, Andrew was not seen in public at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. 

July 8, 2021: Queen Elizabeth II meets actors and members of the production team during a visit to the set of Coronation Street at the ITV Studios at Media City UK in Manchester

Prince Charles and Princess Diana kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in July 29 1981 – but their marriage would end in 1995

27 July 2012: British actor Daniel Craig (L) playing James Bond escorting Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II through the corridors of Buckingham Palace in 2012 for an extraordinary and funny film for the London 2012 Olympics

June 29, 2021: The Queen receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh 

June 28, 2021: The Queen attends the Ceremony of the Keys on the forecourt of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

June 23, 2021: Queen Elizabeth II greets the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson at an audience at Buckingham Palace. This was the Queen’s first in-person weekly audience with the Prime Minister since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

March 19, 2021: Queen Elizabeth II during a video call with Camilla to thank volunteers from the Royal Voluntary Service

He had been set to attend the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s but then pulled out after testing positive for coronavirus. 

The disgraced Duke of York was also listed on the order of service during Garter Day but did not appear at the actual event. It was later reported that Prince William and Prince Charles had lobbied the Queen to ensure he did not feature in public.  

Despite the turbulence with members of her family family, the Queen remained a steadfast figure throughout. 

She was composed, pragmatic and private, relying on her unshakable Christian faith to support her through the darkest moments.

And she also calmed the nation when faced with the global coronavirus pandemic, assuring Britons in March 2020 that the nation’s history ‘has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one’.

Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was niece of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned. That afforded ‘Lilibet’ and her sister Margaret a sheltered if privileged upbringing.

But in 1936, when she was just 10, her uncle abdicated, making her father King and changing her destiny forever.

Just 16 years later, Elizabeth came to the throne as a rather shy 25-year-old, ruling over a nation that had lost much of its power in the world and an empire that was crumbling fast.

Yet, she surprised many by emerging stronger than ever from the winds of change, steering the monarchy safely through an era of storm as well as calm.

She refused to be panicked as public weariness at the antics of some younger members of her family led to a deeply damaging collapse in popularity and threatened to undermine the old-fashioned values of stability, honesty and hard work embodied by the Queen.

Through trials and tribulations, the Queen never lost her overwhelming sense of duty to the nation and it repaid her with an appreciation that often stood in marked contrast to its view of other royals.

The Queen recognised the worth of traditional values in a changing world – but refused to be bound by them.

December 8, 2020: Queen Elizabeth II talking with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle to meet and thank members of the Salvation Army and local volunteers and key workers from organisations and charities

November 7, 2020: Queen Elizabeth II inspecting a bouquet of flowers placed on her behalf at the grave of the Unknown Warrior during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey, London to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior

September 7, 2020: Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi outside The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor after their wedding with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh

July 17, 2020: Captain Sir Thomas Moore receiving his knighthood from the Queen during a ceremony at Windsor Castle

June 1, 2020: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday

May 31, 2020: Queen Elizabeth II riding Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, at Windsor Home Park in Berkshire

March 9, 2020: The Queen and Charles attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day

As a long reigning constitutional monarch, her knowledge and professionalism were unparalleled.

Fourteen prime ministers came and went during her reign, from Sir Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson. Liz Truss was her 15th.

She was Head of State, the Armed Forces, the Commonwealth and the Church of England, but also a wife, a mother of four and Granny to eight grandchildren and Great-Granny to 11 great-grandchildren.

Her whole world, family and daily surroundings were steeped in British history.

The Queen spent more than two-thirds of her life on the throne and in September 2015 at the age of 89, she became Britain’s longest ever reigning monarch, overtaking her royal ancestor Queen Victoria.

Like Victoria, the Queen celebrated a Diamond Jubilee, becoming only the second British monarch to complete 60 years on the throne. 

She was the longest reigning still serving monarch in world – taking the title after the death of the revered Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016. 

Critics saw the Queen as remote, out of touch, less modern and less approachable than other European royals. But supporters heralded her as a great British institution and deserving of respect.

Public adoration peaked during the Silver Jubilee of 1977, the Golden Jubilee of 2002 and Diamond Jubilee of 2012.

However, the Queen’s 50th year on the throne in 2002 saw her suffer the devastating double blow of losing both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret within weeks of one another.

With the death of her beloved mother, it was left to the Queen to take on the role as the Royal Family’s matriarch. 

The Queen talks with veteran Charles Boyer, a resident of the Appleton Lodge care facility in Kent, on November 6, 2019

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords on October 14, 2019

US President Donald Trump smiles with the Queen during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in London on June 3, 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are joined by her mother, Doria Ragland, as they show their newborn son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message for 2018 at Buckingham Palace

The Queen at Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 with her grandsons William and Harry and their wives, Kate and Meghan

Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh during the polo at the Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park on June  24, 2018

The Queen at Hyde Park in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery on October 19, 2017

Elizabeth II is pictured here next to husband Prince Philip and other royals at Buckingham Palace on December 8, 2016

Queen Elizabeth II with her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle in a photograph taken just after Easter 2016

Queen Elizabeth II meets locals during her Diamond Jubilee visit to the Isle of Wight on July 25, 2012 in Cowes

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pose for a family photo after William and Kate’s wedding on April 29, 2011

The Queen and Prince Philip sitting in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle in a photograph issued on April 7, 2011

The Queen speaking to the Commonwealth in her 1980 Christmas Day Broadcast on BBC One

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Sandringham in 1970

As monarch, she served as a focus of national pride through conflicts in which British servicemen paid the ultimate price in her name.

She was a figure of continuity as her country changed in the 20th century, through the Millennium and in the 21st century, from new technological advances to a succession of British governments of different political persuasions.

Lately, the Queen had begun to make a number of concessions to her advancing years including cutting down completely on long-haul travel and getting other members of the family to undertake investitures on her behalf which involved her standing on her feet for more than an hour at a time.

A temporary handrail was installed in the steep steps outside St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen and Prince Philip, then 95, to use at a service to celebrate the monarch’s 90th birthday in 2016.

She was also seen using a walking stick at some of the last engagements – but has reportedly dismissed any talk of her using a wheelchair. 

The Queen also relinquished more than two dozen of her most high-profile patronages as she took another step back from royal duties, with Charles, Prince William, Prince Edward, Princess Anne and their partners taking up the slack.

During her lifetime there was unprecedented change. Penicillin was discovered, man landed on the Moon, Britain got its first woman prime minister and the internet was invented. She was a constant for the UK and the Commonwealth in those times.

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photograph with Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1980, who married one year later

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip sort through a basket of mail on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary in 1972

The public looked to the Queen in times of crisis or tragedy – September 11, the London bombings, the death of Diana and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

After the Princess of Wales was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, millions of mourners were left wondering why the Queen took so long to speak publicly about the tragedy.

The royals were perceived as being unemotional and criticised for their reserve.

At the time, the Queen was doing her duty as a grandmother, consoling the heartbroken Princes William and Harry at Balmoral.

Aides acknowledged important lessons were learned in terms of what the public expected from the royals in times of grief.

Ironically, it was probably the Queen’s early recognition that the monarchy needed to be modernised as the traditional class barriers of British society were eroded that led to its later difficulties. 

Soon after acceding the throne on the premature death of her beloved father, George VI, in 1952, she began to sweep aside some of the more open signs of class distinction and royal mystery.

The Queen introduced the idea of ‘walkabouts’ – haphazard but happy meetings with people in the crowds thronging the streets around official visits – and refused to drop them despite security worries.

The annual ‘coming out’ presentation of debutantes at Buckingham Palace was ended in 1958 and garden parties, receptions and lunches were extended to an ever wider cross-section of society.

Gone for ever was the long accepted idea that ‘society’ was confined to the few people suitable for presentation at Court.

A significant watershed – and probable beginning of the idea of the royals as soap opera – came in the late 1960s with the filming of the TV documentary Royal Family.

Smashing viewing records around the world, it gave the first intimate glimpse of the Queen and her relatives at play as well as at work. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their baby son, Prince Edward on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on June 13, 1964

The Queen and Philip with then US president John F Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, at Buckingham Palace on June 5, 1961

But it also whetted the appetite of a royal-crazy world for public revelations about long-protected private lives.

The prolonged silence observed by the press barons of the 1930s over the affair of Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, and American divorcee Wallis Simpson became inconceivable in the modern day.

If the Queen presided over a sea-change in the way the Royal Family was perceived, she also handled with great skill and statesmanship the massive social and political upheavals of the post-war world.

She helped steer the transition of the British Empire into a looser grouping of Commonwealth nations bound together by ties of friendship as well as tradition.

Many newly-independent states chose to drop her as Queen, but she undertook the titular role of Head of the Commonwealth and attached great importance to its work. 

Like the 14 prime ministers who served her at home, dozens of Commonwealth heads of state drew on her great experience for help and advice, gathered over several decades of extensive overseas trips. 

Prince Philip stepped down from doing public engagements in 2017, but was still by the Queen’s side throughout his final years before his death in April 2021.

Now the huge job of leading the country has been left to her son Prince Charles, who has an enormous challenge on his hands – and will certainly not be monarch for anywhere near the length of time as his devoted mother. 

King Charles III mourns ‘passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother’: Newly named monarch takes power and pays tribute to his beloved mama in a ‘moment of the greatest sadness

Charles has paid tribute to ‘cherished Sovereign and much-loved Mother’ Queen Elizabeth II, as he is confirmed as Britain’s new monarch.

The statement ‘from His Majesty The King’ came just half an hour after the ‘peaceful’ passing of the Queen was announced.

He is now king, and will be known by the regnal name of King Charles III, Clarence House has confirmed. As his full name is Charles Philip Arthur George there was a chance that he could have opted to use one of these names instead. 

His statement read: ‘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. 

‘I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.

Charles has released a statement about the death of Queen Elizabeth, describing her as a ‘cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother’

His Majesty the King said his mother’s death will be ‘deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world’ (pictured in 2009 during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show)

The Queen is seen with her eldest son King Charles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, kisses his mother as she arrives to attend a 90th Birthday Celebration show at Windsor Castle on May 15, 2016

June 4, 2002: The Queen celebrating her Golden Jubilee with King Charles, Prince William, Sophie, Countess of Wessex and other members of the Royal family  

The Queen and the then Prince Charles are seen out walking in Balmoral in October 2021. It was one of the last times the mother and son were pictured together

Charles and Diana kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace next to the Queen in July 29 1981 – but their marriage would end in 1995

 ‘During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.’

Charles was by his mother’s side for much of the day after catching the royal helicopter from Dumfries House in Ayrshire with his wife Camilla.

His younger sister Princess Anne was already at Balmoral after royal duties also took her to Scotland.

Prince Charles left Dumfries House in Ayrshire earlier to travel to Balmoral

They were joined by other senior members of the Royal Family including Her Majesty’s other two children, Andrew and Edward, and Prince William.

The family rushed to the Queen’s Scottish residence after an unprecedented statement from her doctors revealed they were ‘concerned’ about her health and were keeping her under medical supervision. 

Charles is becoming monarch at 73 years old, nearly half a decade older than the Queen was when she found herself in the same position.

He is likely to launch a radical overhaul of the monarchy in the wake of his mother’s death, having frequently spoken about a slimmed-down front-line.

Royal watchers believe the former Prince of Wales is keen to ensure there are ‘no hangers-on’ in the Firm, with each member being expected to pull their weight in a new and more streamlined monarchy.

The concept of the ‘slimmed-down monarch’ was clear to see during the Platinum Jubilee in June when the Queen restricted those appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony to working members of the Royal Family.

But King Charles’ original model, which reportedly involved a tight core of just seven people, including himself, has been thrown into doubt following a series of external events. 

The plan, put in motion before the Queen’s death, originally included the long-reigning monarch along with Prince Philip, King Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate and Prince Harry. 

Philip died aged 99 in 2021, while Harry’s future in the slimmed-down monarchy seems hugely doubtful following his decision to quit front line royal duties and move to America with his wife Meghan Markle. 

Meanwhile, Prince Andrew, who would likely have featured in a slimmed-down monarchy as a son of the Queen and King Charles’ brother, has been outcast since his US sex assault lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre.

But that has pushed Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, and Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, into the fray as ‘key’ parts of Prince Charles’ future monarchy, according to royal watchers.

As Charles becomes King, Prince William is to become the new Prince of Wales, with his wife Kate Middleton taking on the new title of the Princess of Wales.

The Queen with her eldest son Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall ahead of the annual Order of the Garter service at St George’s Chapel on June 13, 2022

The Queen and the now King Charles, dressed in full military uniform, welcomed a small number of healthcare professionals to the ornate confines of Windsor Castle on July 12 2020

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their children Charles and Anne at Sandringham in 1970

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photograph with Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1980, who married one year later

As the new King, Charles will be front-and-centre of the new-look monarchy. Alongside his reported desire to slim-down the size of the family, the biggest immediate change will be his residence.

The former Prince of Wales’s official residence has been Clarence House, on The Mall in the City of Westminster, since 2003.

While the Queen’s official residence has been Buckingham Palace, she spent much of her time at her favoured Windsor Castle following the death of her beloved Prince Philip. 

According to royal biographer Penny Junor in her book ‘The Firm’, the Queen wanted to remain living at Clarence House after her father’s death, but was convinced by Winston Churchill to move to Buckingham Palace – because of its significance as the home of the monarch.

It is believed Kings Charles will follow in his mother’s footsteps and move into Buckingham Palace.

One royal source told the Mail on Sunday in February 2022: ‘There is no question about it. HRH’s view is that you need a monarch at monarchy HQ. This has never been in doubt.

‘The Prince of Wales will not move into Buckingham Palace before he is king. But when he is, he absolutely will.

‘Just like the Queen, it will effectively be in the ‘flat above the shop’. He feels it is right, just as the Queen does, to work out of Buckingham Palace.

‘The Palace will still be a working and entertaining hub and will also still be open to visitors. It is a hugely important tourist attraction.

‘But the prince can still live there at the same time, much like he does at Highgrove, which is also open to the public.’ 

Our hearts are broken: It just seems unimaginable. That wisest and most steadfast of women, our guiding light in the darkest of nights, has gone, writes SARAH VINE

How to find the words? Our grief is a hundred different emotions, all of them hard to grasp. 

As God Save the Queen played on the radio and TV, as we heard that our beloved monarch had died, a nation’s heart broke. A few moments earlier, a double rainbow had appeared over Buckingham Palace, a glorious splash of colour in the grey afternoon sky. 

Her Majesty’s final message of hope, perhaps, to the people she loved and served with such untrammelled joy and generosity all these years. And who knows, perhaps Prince Philip was up there too, once again by her side. All day, we had known something was wrong. By mid-morning, rumours were circulating that she was very unwell. 

Soon after, a statement from the palace. Her doctors were ‘concerned for Her Majesty’s health’. In the understated language of royal announcements, this was the equivalent of breaking the safety glass. Outside, the sky turned a menacing shade of grey: big, fat drops of rain, like tears, began to fall. A friend texted simply: ‘I can’t bear it. I’m just not ready.’

It got worse. It was announced that Prince Charles, along with Camilla, Prince William, and the rest of her children, were on their way to Balmoral.

As God Save the Queen played on the radio and TV, as we heard that our beloved monarch had died, a nation’s heart broke. Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, is pictured in 1951

In the House of Commons a grim-faced Nadhim Zahawi, the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, handed Liz Truss an ominous note.

Pillar boxes, cash, stamps, police helmets, passports. So much will be different… even QCs become KCs 

After 70 years on the throne, we have all become accustomed to seeing the Queen’s image on everyday items such as bank notes, coins and stamps.

But following her death, they will have to be changed to feature portraits of the new King, Charles III.

British currency won’t be replaced overnight, however. It could take years, as new coins and notes are created with the face of the King and the older ones are gradually removed from circulation.

Another change will be that while the Queen’s image faces to the right on coins, new ones will show the King facing left. This is due to a tradition dating from the 17th century to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing. The Queen’s coins did not appear until 1953 – the year after her accession.

The new coins and notes will need to be designed and minted, or printed. Then The Royal Mint advisory committee must send recommendations for new coins to the Chancellor and obtain royal approval. Designs are then chosen and the final choices approved by the Chancellor and then the King.

Stamps also depict an image of the Queen and new ones will have to be created featuring the face of the King, again with the current ones phased out gradually. Charles may have already sat for such sculptures or portraits, and he will again have to approve the designs.

Royal Mail postboxes bearing the Queen’s ER cypher (for ‘Elizabeth Regina’, the Latin for Queen) are unlikely to be removed – in fact, some emblazoned with the Queen’s father King George VI’s GR (‘George Rex’, Latin for King) cypher can still be seen today. But any new postboxes could feature the new King’s emblem.

And in criminal court cases, the R to denote the Crown now stands for Rex rather than Regina. Another change in matters of law is that barristers and solicitors appointed by the monarch will see their title switch from Queen’s Counsel (QC) to King’s Counsel (KC).

Meanwhile, the words to the National Anthem now change to ‘God save our gracious King’.

Military medals featuring the Queen’s effigy will need to be altered, while police and military uniforms bearing the Queen’s cypher are likely to be updated over time with the new King’s cypher – the monogram impressed on royal and state documents. The Queen’s ERII features on traditional police helmets.

UK passports will be issued in the new King’s name and their wording changed at some point. Her Majesty’s Passport Office will become His Majesty’s Passport Office, as is the case with HM Armed Forces and HM Prison Service.

Charles’s signature will also change. Before, it was simply ‘Charles’, but now it will be followed by an additional R for Rex at the end. As King, he will also need a new personal flag.

In 1960, the Queen adopted a personal flag – a gold E with the royal crown surrounded by a chaplet of roses on a blue background – to be flown on any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she was staying or travelling. It was often used when she visited Commonwealth countries. While the Royal Standard represents the Sovereign and the United Kingdom, the Queen’s own flag was personal to her alone.

Meanwhile, the royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same. But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces.

The ‘very light rebranding’ will be hard to spot, but it signifies the opportunity to replace old images, which have been in use for many decades, with newer differently stylised ones. And The Duke of Cambridge will be given an updated coat of arms when he is made the Prince of Wales – a title which he does not inherit automatically.

 

And then, the worst news of all: the Duke of Sussex was also heading to Scotland. Under the circumstances, and given the family’s recent history, an indication of the true seriousness of the situation.

Finally, around 5pm, a friend from Aberdeen messaged to say that a piper had been summoned to Balmoral. That could mean only one thing. It seems unimaginable. Impossible. Just wrong. That wisest and most steadfast of women, our guiding light in the darkest of nights, has left. All feels black.

How do we even begin to contemplate an existence without Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? She has always been there, our comfort, our moral and (for many) religious compass through war, hardship, political turmoil, a global pandemic.

The one person whose face, whose smile, whose reassuring presence just always felt like home.

Stability, continuity, tradition in the finest sense of the word. This is a woman whose first prime minister was born in 1874. Not even my parents’ generation has known a world without her. The story of her life, the changes she witnessed, how she steered the monarchy through seven extraordinary decades, could fill a library, and no doubt they will. She has been a model of duty and perseverance, everything a monarch should be.

But what made her so very special – and what makes her departure such agony – was her unique and enduring humanity.

Even as a young woman, she always demonstrated extraordinary emotional intelligence. She understood what it meant to be Queen, to wield that constitutional power; but she never let it go to her head, nor allowed the weight of responsibility to crush her irrepressible spirit.

Indeed, if anything, the longer she wore the crown, the closer she became to her people: kinder, more connected, more tangible, infinitely relatable.

She could put the whole nation at ease with a simple smile, she could touch our hearts with the smallest of gestures. 

She was funny, kind, loving. She indulged her dogs and adored her horses. She lived her life with joy, despite the restraints of her position. And every now and then she allowed us a glimpse of the woman behind the throne.

That brilliant James Bond skit she did for the London Olympics; sharing a marmalade sandwich with Paddington Bear; giggling when things went wrong on sombre public occasions; her wicked talent for mimicry. She was, unlike so many royals these days, an undersharer; but what little we saw we could not help but love.

My favourite story about her is that one about bumping into a group of American tourists near Balmoral. Not recognising the diminutive figure in front of them, they asked if she had ever met the Queen. ‘No, but he has,’ she replied, gesturing in the direction of the protection officer beside her.

She always carried the heaviest of burdens with the lightest of touches, and made it all look so easy.

So much so that there was a small part of us – or certainly me – that thought she might live for ever, that she might by some miracle defy the laws of the universe. Some people make the world a better place simply by existing. She was one of them.

In truth, I’d been uneasy ever since I saw that photograph of her, earlier in the week, greeting her 15th prime minister. She looked elegant, of course – yet so terribly small and vulnerable.

You could see she was doing her best to be her usual smiling self, no doubt aware of the importance of that moment for the woman standing in front of her: magnanimous as ever.

But something just wasn’t quite right. I’ve only ever seen the Queen in the flesh once, in 2019, when I had the honour of finding myself inches away from her at a state banquet for the then-president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Dressed in shimmering white and diamonds, her presence lit up the room. She radiated energy like the sun, eclipsing even the galactic ego of the president himself.

I watched in awe as she cut through the fawning throng, pausing briefly to give one of her equerries a gentle telling-off about some door that had been left open, causing a draught. While undeniably of an age, she seemed in vigorous health. Full of life – and full of more than a bit of mischief.

Even as a young woman, she always demonstrated extraordinary emotional intelligence. She understood what it meant to be Queen, to wield that constitutional power; but she never let it go to her head, nor allowed the weight of responsibility to crush her irrepressible spirit. Queen Elizabeth is pictured with one of her corgis in September 1952

But what made her so very special – and what makes her departure such agony – was her unique and enduring humanity. The Queen is pictured during a 2006 visit to the Baltic States

A lot has changed in three years. Primarily, of course, the death of Prince Philip, the man who was to her what she has always been for us: her rock, her constant, her guide in times of need.

It was he who broke the news to her that she was now Queen while on tour in Kenya, following the death of her father George VI in February 1952. No one understood her sacrifice like he did. How must it have felt to guide the nation through the bleakest of Covid winters, to navigate the vicissitudes of Prince Andrew’s conduct alone, without the duke’s wise counsel. Not to mention the constant threats from her grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife.

How she must have worried, alone in the wee small hours, about the future of the institution to which she had given her whole life, heart and soul, that she had fought so hard to protect and nurture.

And understandably so: for many Her Majesty was the only member of the Royal Family who was above criticism, immune to the day-to-day attacks on the monarchy, having earned the respect of even the monarchy’s harshest critics. She was, in many ways, their super-power.

Without her, who knows what will become of them?

A few moments earlier, a double rainbow had appeared over Buckingham Palace, a glorious splash of colour in the grey afternoon sky (pictured)

People pay their respects in front the British embassy in Berlin, Germany following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II

As for the rest of us, well: the Queen has seen Britain through many of its bleakest hours. But the past few years have been especially turbulent and perplexing – and set against a depressing social and economic landscape.

She has been our one true north, the only fixed point in an ever-shifting world. As archaic as the monarchy is, in a funny way it feels like we’ve never needed it more, this institution that transcends the fortunes of passing prime ministers, led by a woman who, for seven glorious decades, has defied time and tide.

Being the highly perceptive person that she was, she must have known this. Which is perhaps why she kept going so bravely in the teeth of her grief and her failing health.

This year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations were as much for our benefit as for hers: an acknowledgment of the extraordinary bond between this single, small woman and a nation of almost 70million souls (and billions more if you count the Commonwealth).

And however hard it will be now for us to face the future without her to guide us, however much we might wish she could have stayed just a little while longer, it is our duty now to honour her – and to let go with love.

She has carried us as far as she can. It is high time, now, for her to rest.

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