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The nation is today shrouded in grief after the Queen died ‘peacefully’ at Balmoral yesterday at the age of 96.
As her distraught family gathered at her Highland home, the new King – who will be known as Charles III – last night spoke of their ‘greatest sadness’ and said her death would be ‘deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world’.
Crowds carrying floral tributes gathered at the gates of Buckingham Palace as well as Windsor and Balmoral Castles, numbed at the passing of not only an icon of grace, duty and dignity, but the single monarch that many have ever known.
Many will today wake up struggling to imagine their country without its Queen, who marked an historic 70 years on the throne in June. The news of her death sparked a wave of tributes both at home and abroad, led by the Prime Minister, who hailed the Queen as ‘the rock on which modern Britain was built’ and described her death as the end of the second Elizabethan age. Liz Truss concluded: ‘Today the crown passes, as it has done for more than a thousand years, to our new monarch, our new head of state, His Majesty King Charles III. God save the King.’
Boris Johnson, who until this week was the Queen’s 14th prime minister, said Britain was enduring its ‘saddest day’ following the death of ‘Elizabeth the Great’.
Summing up the views of many, he added: ‘She seemed so timeless and so wonderful that I am afraid we had come to believe, like children, that she would just go on and on.’
Tonight Charles will give his first televised address to the country and Commonwealth as King, which he will have recorded earlier in the day.
Sources said he has a ‘clear idea of what he intends to say’.
Boris Johnson, who until this week was the Queen’s 14th prime minister, said Britain was enduring its ‘saddest day’ following the death of ‘Elizabeth the Great’. Pictured, the Queen on Tuesday
King Charles III’s moving statement to the world
‘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 affect-ion in which The Queen was so widely held.’
His late father’s desk has been brought to him from which to deliver the TV address, a poignant tribute to Prince Philip, who died in April last year and whose loss his mother felt so keenly.
While the Queen’s health and determination to carry out her God-given duties was steadfast to the last – she met both her incoming and outgoing prime ministers on Tuesday as well as carrying out a string of other private duties – her frailty had recently become impossible to ignore.
Meetings took place in the last two weeks to discuss the discharge of all but essential duties to her son and heir. On Wednesday evening Buckingham Palace said the Queen had been forced to cancel a virtual privy council meeting after being advised by her doctors to rest.
Then word began to leak out that she had taken a turn for the worse early yesterday morning. 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.
Princes William, Andrew and Edward arrive at Balmoral along with Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as they rush to be at the Queen’s bedside after news of her deteriorating health was announced
New line of succession
- King Charles III
- The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge (Prince William)
- Prince George
- Princess Charlotte
- Prince Louis
- The Duke of Sussex (Prince Harry)
- Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
- Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor
- The Duke of York
- Princess Beatrice
- Sienna Mapelli Mozzi (Beatrice’s daughter)
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 – who, until the King bestows the title of Prince and Princess of Wales on him and his wife, will be known as the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge – 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.
The official announcement of the Queen’s passing was displayed on the gates of Buckingham Palace on Thursday evening
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
HRH and HM: How the royals’ titles have changed
Here is how the Royal Family’s titles have changed following the death of the Queen:
Charles – King
Charles, who was the Prince of Wales, is now King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He is also King of Commonwealth realms. His style is His Majesty rather than His Royal Highness. Charles is also Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. He is now the Duke of Lancaster.
Camilla – Queen
Camilla is, as the wife of the King, the Queen. Her style is Her Majesty rather than Her Royal Highness. She is a Queen Consort, as was the Queen Mother, rather than a Queen Regnant who rules in her own right, such as Elizabeth II.
William – The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge
The Duke of Cambridge, as heir to the throne, is now the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge. As Charles’s eldest son, he has inherited the title the Duke of Cornwall.
William will be titled the Prince of Wales – which is traditionally used for the male heir to the throne. But this is not automatic and William needs to be created so by his father. The same stands for the Earl of Chester.
William has also inherited the Scottish titles the Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.
Kate – The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge is now the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.
When William becomes the Prince of Wales Kate will become the Princess of Wales – last used by William’s mother, Diana, when she was married to Charles.
Camilla was also technically the Princess of Wales but never used the title because of its association with Diana. Kate will also hold the title the Countess of Chester, if William becomes the Earl of Chester. She is also now the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland – previously Camilla’s title.
George, Charlotte & Louis
William and Kate’s children have become Prince George of Cornwall and Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cornwall and Cambridge, and Prince Louis of Cornwall and Cambridge. They will eventually become ‘of Wales’ when William is the Prince of Wales.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is now technically a prince due to rules set out by King George V in 1917.
When Archie was born he was too far down the line of succession for such a title according to George V’s restrictions, but now, as the son of a son of a sovereign, he can be an HRH and a prince.
Archie was allowed to become Earl of Dumbarton, one of the duke’s subsidiary titles, when he was born, or could have been Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, but Buckingham Palace said his parents decided he should be Master Archie instead.
In the Sussexes’ bombshell Oprah interview, Meghan, however, claimed Archie was not made a prince because of his race – even though George V’s rules meant he was not entitled to be one.
In 2021, it was suggested Charles – in a bid to limit the number of key royals – intended, when he became king, to prevent Archie becoming a prince. To do so, he will have to issue a letters patent amending Archie’s right to be a prince. Until that potentially happens, Archie remains a prince, whether his parents choose to use the title or not.
If it does not happen, Archie will continue to be HRH Prince Archie of Sussex.
Archie’s younger sister Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor is now technically a princess. If she uses the title, she will be HRH Princess Lilibet of Sussex. Like Archie, Charles would have to issue a letters patent to remove this.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s titles will not change. The couple have stopped using HRH styles, but still retain them.
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.
Many of 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 cause of death has not been revealed yet. Last autumn she was kept in hospital overnight for tests, details of which have never been disclosed by Buckingham Palace, but the incident signalled the start of a significant withdrawal from public duties and long periods of rest.
One source with close links to the royal household said she had not been suffering from any chronic condition, but had recently lost a lot of weight and was ‘feeling all the aches and pains that a 96-year-old woman would be expected to feel and has suffered terrible problems with her sore feet’.
Fortunately she had enjoyed one of her happiest summers in recent years, entertaining family and friends at Balmoral. By her side was Angela Kelly, the Liverpudlian dock worker’s daughter who has risen to become her right-hand woman with the title of Personal Assistant, Adviser and Curator to Her Majesty The Queen.
‘She’s been wrapping the Queen up in cotton wool,’ a source said yesterday. ‘She’s been very over protective and ensuring that Her Majesty hasn’t been doing too much.’
The Queen’s last major public appearance was at the close of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
Senior members of the Royal Family yesterday sparked a royal rush as they raced to Balmoral to be beside the Queen at her deathbed as Britain’s longest reigning monarch died peacefully at the castle following an historic day.
What started as a normal Thursday full of engagements, and the first day at school for the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, soon turned to something far more serious as news spread of Her Majesty’s ill health.
The Queen’s two eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne were the first to be by her side as they were both already in Scotland on official engagements.
They were later joined by Prince William – who flew up to Scotland alone – alongside Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie Countess of Wessex who flew by plane as the Royal Family came together in their time of need.
Even those on the periphery, including the ‘favourite son’ Prince Andrew and self-exiled Prince Harry, made the all-important trip to Scotland to be with their closest family in their darkest hour.
The first indication that something was wrong arrived quietly: A note, passed hand to-hand on the front benches of the Commons shortly after midday as Liz Truss made her first major policy announcement as Prime Minister.
The masks slipped as brows creased with worry on the government benches, before Sir Keir Starmer was passed a copy while speaking from the opposition side. The look of worry was mutual. Something big was happening.
Nadim Zahawi passes a note to Liz Truss in the Commons shortly after midday, causing brows to furrow with worry. Keir Starmer, speaking at the time (bottom left) was handed a copy of the note and looked similarly concerned
Huge crowds gathered outside the front of Buckingham Palace on Thursday as they anxiously awaited news of Queen Elizabeth’s health
Charles III, our new King
By Rebecca English Royal Editor for The Daily Mail
The new King Charles III has finally inherited the crown at the age of 73.
He grew up knowing that it was his destiny to be the monarch – but even he could never have imagined that he would become the longest-serving heir to the throne in all of British history.
Knowing that this responsibility would come about only on the death of his mother, he always felt deeply pained at any mention of it.
But he was confirmed as King at 6.30pm yesterday, when the official message announcing the Queen’s death concluded with a reference to the new ‘King and the Queen Consort’.
Charles then issued his first statement as monarch shortly afterwards, in which he said: ‘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.’
The strain of Charles’s long apprenticeship, and the ‘enormous weight of expectation’ he once said he felt in having to step into the Queen’s shoes, has in part fed his notorious tendency to introspection.
‘The difficulty is most of the time not feeling that one is worthy of it, inevitably,’ he once said. In his 1994 biography of the future king, Jonathan Dimbleby wrote: ‘Prince Charles is far more aware of the prospective burdens of kingship than its pleasures.’
But admirably Charles chose not to sit idly on his hands.
He has devoted his life to trying to make life better for his future subjects, starting inspirational charities such as The Prince’s Trust – whose work has changed the futures of thousands of disadvantaged young people – and writing his infamous ‘black spider memos’ (a reference to his scrawled writing), which has led on occasions to accusations of meddling in government policy.
He has always squared his shoulders against the brickbats and continued with his work, impatient to get as much done as possible before acceding to the throne.
Charles was once quoted as saying: ‘I’ve had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better.
‘I feel more than anything else that it is my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try and find a way of improving things if I possibly can.’ Royal aides insist that the prince knows he will have to put deeply held personal beliefs on everything from urban regeneration to architecture to one side now – although he will never lose his progressive zeal and belief that he can still harness his passions positively.
It is likely that he will set the tone when he addresses the nation at 6pm tonight.
Personally, it has been a difficult time for the prince of late, losing both his father and suffering the devastating blow of his younger son’s decision to quit as a working royal and criticise his parenting.
He has only met his youngest granddaughter Lilibet once and barely knows Harry and Meghan’s son Archie, as a result. But he has been cheered by the Queen’s embracing of his second wife Camilla and her public endorsement of her as Queen Consort after 17 years of service.
As King, Charles – who stayed at Balmoral last night – will be unable to grieve in private. Today he and Camilla will return to London, where he is expected to hold an audience with the Prime Minister as well as record his first televised address to the nation as monarch.
Amid his deep personal grief, it will be a crumb of comfort to Charles, however, that he was able to be with his mother in her final hours.
Minutes after came the announcement from Buckingham Palace: Queen Elizabeth II had been placed under ‘medical supervision’ at her holiday residence in Balmoral by doctors who were ‘concerned for her health’.
Charles, Camilla and Princess Anne – already in Scotland, where the Queen had been since mid-July – were on their way to her bedside. Prince William, who had just dropped George, Louis, and Charlotte off for their first day at school, was also on his way. Kate, ever mindful of the needs of her family, had opted to stay behind.
What ensued were hours of pregnant silence, where nobody said what everybody was thinking.
The 96-year-old monarch – the longest-serving in the UK’s history, the only one that most alive today have ever known – was surely gravely ill. Then, at 6.30pm exactly, came the official announcement: The Queen had died.
Determined to serve the nation she loved right to the end, Elizabeth had been on duty just two days prior – accepting the resignation of Boris Johnson and inviting Ms Truss to form a new government.
She was forced to miss just one engagement, a virtual meeting of her Privy Council scheduled for Wednesday evening, and only because it was called off on doctors’ orders.
The Queen had been told to ‘rest’, the palace said, after a ‘full day’ of duties with Johnson and Truss. That was to become her last act as this country’s ruler.
News of her ill health spread slowly at first, and then all at once.
Viewers of Bargain Hunt were among the first to learn that all was not well, as their daytime TV programming was interrupted when the BBC switched to non-stop news coverage at around midday.
Alerts then went out to newspapers around the world and the story appeared on front pages from France to the Philippines, and Spain to Saudi Arabia.
Even Russia’s highly-partisan state media carried sober reports about ‘concerns’ for Her Majesty’s health at the top of their websites.
Then the warnings began to grow louder. Royals not usually included in day-to-day matters of ‘The Firm’ began heading north of the border.
Prince Andrew was said to be on his way as well as Prince Harry, who cancelled his attendance at the Wellchild Awards.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were also said to be heading to Balmoral.
Uncertainty reigned for a time over the presence of Harry’s wife, Meghan, who was later revealed to be staying in London. She may travel to Balmoral ‘at a later date’, sources said.
The BBC then cancelled all scheduled programming until at least 6pm to stay with the news, as Huw Edwards – the go-to man for major occasions both celebratory and solemn – emerged. Few could fail to notice his black tie.
Around an hour later, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace was called off – a symbolic moment of interruption in the otherwise clockwork workings of the Royal household.
Crowds, sensing the increasing severity of the moment, began to gather – both in central London and at Windsor, where it was hammering down with rain – some of them in tears.
At the same time and also in a torrential downpour, a jet carrying Princes William, Andrew, and Edward, along with wife Sophie, arrived in Aberdeen where the group were seen climbing into a car for the hour journey to Balmoral.
The palace remained silent, though all the signs of the impeding tragedy were there. As the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell pointed out: ‘The fact that Buckingham Palace felt it necessary to issue a statement, and the fact that family members are travelling there, says everything.’
Since assuming the throne after the death of her father on February 6, 1952, Elizabeth had been a symbol of stability as Britain negotiated the end of empire, the dawn of the information age and the mass migration that transformed the country into a multicultural society.
Throughout her tenure, the Queen had also built a bond with the people of Great Britain through a seemingly endless series of public appearances as she opened libraries, dedicated hospitals and bestowed honours on deserving citizens.
William, Andrew, Edward and Sophie are pictured arriving at Aberdeen airport on board a private jet amid a royal rush to be at the Queen’s bedside on Thursday afternoon
Crowds gathered outside the gates of Buckingham Palace despite the rain as the sense of worry about the Queen deepened
Though the announcement would not be made official for several hours, some arrived carrying floral tributes – perhaps sensing the gravity of the situation
Elizabeth, who famously dedicated her ‘whole life’ to the service of Britain and the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday, had ruled out the idea of abdicating.
As recently as Wednesday she issued a statement after the killing of at least 10 people in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, saying: ‘I mourn with all Canadians at this tragic time.’
But the death of her husband, Prince Philip, in April of last year reminded the country that the reign of the only monarch most people in Britain have ever known was finite.
During a funeral that was limited to just 30 mourners because of Covid, the Queen was forced to sit alone, hidden behind a black face mask, as she contemplated the loss of the man who had been at her side for more than 70 years.
That truth was the subtext of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations as newspapers, TV news shows and the walls of the palace were filled with images of Elizabeth as she evolved from a glamorous young queen in crown and diamonds to a kind of global grandmother known for her omnipresent handbag and love of horses and corgis.
Charles was front and centre throughout the festivities as he stood in for his mother and demonstrated he was ready to take on her mantle.
Wearing a ceremonial scarlet tunic and bearskin hat, he reviewed the troops during the Queen’s Birthday Parade on the opening day of the jubilee.
The next day, he was the last guest to enter St. Paul’s Cathedral and took his seat at the front of the church for a service of thanksgiving in honour of the queen.
At a star-studded concert in front of Buckingham Palace, he delivered the main tribute to the woman he addressed as ‘Your Majesty, Mummy.’
But on Thursday, the nation’s attention was firmly fixed on the Queen.
‘It’s quite sad, really,’ Kristian Ctylok, a 32-year-old London resident said. ‘I think half the country is probably expecting it because she’s been quite frail for a while. But, you know, I guess no one thought the day would come.’
Huw Edwards, the BBC’s go-to man for big occasions both celebratory and sombre, emerged wearing a black tie – a sign of the sad news that was to follow several hours later
Camilla’s rise from mistress to Queen
Camilla has completed an extraordinary transformation from royal mistress to Her Majesty the Queen
By Chris Brooke for The Daily Mail
Camilla has completed an extraordinary transformation from royal mistress to Her Majesty the Queen.
Charles automatically became King on his mother’s death and his dutiful second wife is now Queen Consort.
There was a time when honouring Camilla with the ultimate royal title would have been controversial with some.
Camilla was blamed in some quarters for the breakdown of Charles’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.
And, when news of their affair first came to light, Camilla faced vitriolic criticism. It took time for the public to accept her following Diana’s death in 1997 and when she married Charles in 2005 the subject of her future title was a cause of controversy.
At the time, royal aides said Camilla did not want to be known as Queen Consort – even though she was entitled to be.
She ‘intended’ instead, when the time came, to be known as Princess Consort – a title never before used in British history.
But so stunning has her transformation been that she is now one of the most popular members of the Royal Family and a fully fledged member of ‘The Firm’.
In February, Queen Elizabeth II publicly announced her endorsement of her daughter-in-law taking the title of Queen Consort when the time came.
In her Platinum Jubilee message to the nation, the monarch said it was her ‘sincere wish’ she should take the title. The Daily Mail revealed Queen Elizabeth gave her blessing to crown Camilla as Queen Consort years ago and that Charles came close to announcing it in 2019.
The Queen chose the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne to make the highly significant announcement and express her desire for Camilla to be fully acknowledged when Charles became King.
She told the nation: ‘When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me, and it is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.’
Camilla later said she felt ‘very honoured and very touched’ by the public seal of approval.
Her gradual progression within the Royal Family over recent years has seen her attend the State Opening of Parliament. She was made a Privy Counsellor in 2016, meaning she will be beside Charles when he is formally proclaimed monarch at the Accession Council.
Through charity work championing literacy, and highlighting the problem of domestic abuse and sexual violence, Camilla has carved out her own royal role. And she has even won over the media with her sense of humour and devotion to her husband and public duty.
Camilla will be crowned at Charles’s side at his coronation, just as the last Queen Consort, the Queen Mother, was.
She is expected to wear the Queen Mother’s 1937 coronation crown: A Queen by the side of the new King.