Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom's Longest-reigning Monarch, Dies at 96

She served as the queen for 70 years.

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history and the second longest reigning monarch in the world, has died. She was 96 years old. 

"The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," The BBC confirmed during a broadcast on Thursday. The Royal Family also confirmed the news on their official Twitter account.

The monarch, whose full name was Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, leaves behind four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, and Prince Andrew — along with eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 

Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she visits Cyfarthfa High School and Castle on April 26, 2012 in Merthyr, Wales.

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Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, in London, as the eldest child of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. At the time of her birth, Elizabeth had no direct line to the throne, thus was able to have a relatively anonymous childhood and even gained the nickname “Lilibet” along the way. However, things changed when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the position, moving the line instead to her father. 

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace after Elizabeth's coronation, 2nd June 1953.

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ueen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with their children, Prince Andrew (centre), Princess Anne (left) and Charles, Prince of Wales sitting on a picnic rug outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
ueen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with their children, Prince Andrew (centre), Princess Anne (left) and Charles, Prince of Wales sitting on a picnic rug outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

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In 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, formerly known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in Westminster Abbey. The pair welcomed their first child, Prince Charles, on Nov. 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace.

Just five years later, in 1952, while on tour in Kenya, Princess Elizabeth learned of her father’s passing and immediately flew back to England to undertake her duties. She was officially crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey at just 25 years old. Her coronation ceremony was the first to ever be televised, inviting a global audience into the British monarchy’s life. 

Queen Elizabeth made it a point to travel extensively throughout her reign, visiting commonwealths around the globe and visiting with heads of state. As the official royal website explained, “During her reign, The Queen visited every country in the Commonwealth (with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995 and Rwanda, which joined in 2009) and made many repeat visits. In fact, one-third of the Queen's total overseas visits are to Commonwealth countries. In the sixties, The Queen remarkably visited 28 countries in the Commonwealth, including Ghana, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada.” 

The Queen ushered in 15 prime ministers throughout her reign, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, who she welcomed to Balmoral on Sept. 6, 2022.

Queen Elizabeth and new prime minister Liz Truss
Queen Elizabeth and new prime minister Liz Truss meeting on Sept. 6.

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Of the Queen, Churchill was quoted as saying, “all the film people in the world, if they scoured the globe, could not have found anyone so suited for the part.” 

Beyond her official royal duties, the Queen found joy in her animals, particularly her corgi dogs, of which she owned more than 30 throughout her life, according to The BBC. The Queen was also a well-respected horse breeder, including everything from racehorses to carriage horses and even the odd polo pony or two.

On her 21st birthday, even before becoming Queen, Elizabeth made a vow to the British public, which held true for her entire life, stating: “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.”

Queen Elizabeth II sitting in the backseat of a car on her way to the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown during her visit to Canada, 6th October 1964.

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The Queen celebrated 70 years on the throne this past summer with a spectacular Platinum Jubilee celebration.

"Her Majesty the Queen has lived a life of extraordinary service, devoting her time to representing her country and carrying out her duties with amazing grace and humility," London's Mayor Sadiq Kahn told Travel + Leisure at the time. "Lots of business and supporters have come together to work on the plans for the Platinum Jubilee, and I am proud that London will be at the very heart of the event."

In celebration of the milestone, Transport for London named a tube stop after the monarch, aptly titled the "Elizabeth Line."

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