“On Thursday, the world lost an extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute,” the Duke of Cambridge, 40, shared via his and Duchess Kate’s joint Instagram account on Saturday, September 10. “So much will be said in the days ahead about the meaning of her historic reign.”
William continued: “I, however, have lost a grandmother. And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful. I have had the benefit of the queen’s wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade.”
The military veteran noted that Kate, 40, had “20 years of her guidance and support,” while their three children — Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4 — spent many holidays with the late queen, creating “memories that will last their whole lives.”
“She was by my side at my happiest moments and she was by my side during the saddest days of my life,” the statement added. “I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real.”
The monarch’s passing was announced in an earlier statement from Buckingham Palace on Thursday, September 8, noting that she “died peacefully” at Balmoral Castle. The late queen was 96.
Shortly before her death, Buckingham Palace announced that the queen’s medical team was worried about her health. “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 September 8 statement read. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
While both William and Prince Harry — the latter of whom was in Europe with wife Meghan Markle — rushed to the queen’s bedside in Scotland. Neither they (nor their uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward) made it in time to say goodbye.
Elizabeth’s declining health made headlines earlier that year when she battled COVID-19 in February. The queen also suffered from ongoing mobility problems, which caused her to miss the State Opening of Parliament three months later. At the time, a source told Us that her majesty had been advised to “go a lot easier on herself” in advance of her historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Elizabeth attended the Trooping the Colour parade in June but missed the Jubilee’s Service of Thanksgiving, the Epsom Derby and the “Party in the Palace” concert due to “discomfort.” A source told Us that the monarch was “disappointed that she couldn’t attend all the events”
During the Jubilee weekend, the queen met her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time. “After reluctantly pulling out of Party at the Palace, spending time with her great-grandchildren and seeing Lilibet turn 1 added some light to her day,” a source exclusively told Us at the time. “She thinks they’re adorable and gave Lili and Archie gifts.”
Elizabeth’s death comes more than a year after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, in April 2021. Philip was 99.
The royal couple married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947, later welcoming children Charles, Andrew, Princess Anne and Edward.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” the queen gushed about the Duke of Edinburgh at their 50th anniversary celebration.
Just weeks after his death, the queen turned 95, releasing a somber statement about the difficult time the family was going through.
“I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate. While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world,” she shared in April 2021. “My family and I would like to thank you for all the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”
Both William and Kate were in attendance at Philip’s funeral, as was Harry, 37, who returned to the U.K. for the first time since exiting his royal duties in 2020. Meghan, 41, was unable to fly in for the event as she was pregnant with baby No. 2. (Lilibet joined big brother Archie, 3, in June 2021.)
The Duke of Sussex has been open about his difficult time living in the palace, sharing details in multiple bombshell interviews since stepping down from royal duties. While admitting to broken relationships with both his brother and his father, he shared during a March 2021 CBS interview that he and the queen always had a special bond.
“I have spoken more with my grandmother in the last year than I have done in many, many years,” he revealed at the time. “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and a good understanding.”