In her memory. Following the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death at age 96, the U.K. is officially entering a 12-day mourning period.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday, September 8, that the longest-reigning British monarch had passed away. News of her death came shortly after doctors placed Elizabeth under “medical supervision” due to growing concerns surrounding her health. (The queen had been experiencing mobility issues for several months before she died, with her discomfort prompting her to skip some of her Platinum Jubilee events in June.)
Referred to as Operation London Bridge, plans for how the country would react after the queen’s death were first established in the 1960s. In the years since, they’ve been updated multiple times.
While the queen herself contributed to some of the preparations before her passing, many details were put in place by her heir, Prince Charles. More modern details have also been accounted for in recent years, such as the changing of the royal family’s social media profile pictures to pay tribute to the late monarch.
During the mourning period, staff uniforms will change. Comedy shows airing on BBC will be canceled, and the British economy will likely take a hit as the country lives through a period of immense shock.
Born in April 1926, Elizabeth’s rule began in 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI, and she served her country in the role for seven decades. Along with Charles, she leaves behind daughter Princess Anne, sons Prince Edward and Prince Andrew, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Ahead of her death, the monarch celebrated her 70 years of service with her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to enjoy Trooping the Colour on June 2. She was joined by Prince William, Duchess Kate and their three children — Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.
While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also attended the event, they were slightly farther away, sitting with the rest of the extended royal family in the Major General’s Office, which overlooks the grounds of the parade.
Following the weekend’s opening festivities, Buckingham Palace revealed to Us Weekly that it was with “great reluctance” that Elizabeth would not be attending Thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral the next day after experiencing some “discomfort.”
“The Queen greatly enjoyed today’s Birthday Parade and flypast but did experience some discomfort,” the statement read. “Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty with great reluctance has concluded that she will not attend.”
After the service, it was announced that the queen pulled out of a second and third day of Jubilee events, including the Epsom Derby and Party at the Palace. Her absence at the derby marked the third time over the course of Elizabeth’s 70-year reign that she missed the horse race.
Prior to her death, Elizabeth was able to meet her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time during the Jubilee, which coincided with Lili’s 1st birthday. “Harry and Meghan visited the queen at Windsor Castle with Lilibet and Archie,” a source told Us exclusively at the time, noting that seeing the little ones “added some light” to the queen’s day. “She thinks they’re adorable and gave Lili and Archie gifts.”
The queen’s firstborn son and heir apparent, Charles, is now set to take on the role of king in the wake of his mother’s death. While his coronation likely won’t take place for months, his royal duties began straight away. Now 73, he was only 4 years old when he sat beside Elizabeth at her own coronation.
As she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in February, the queen looked ahead to Charles’ reign. She revealed that she wanted the Prince of Wales’ second wife, Duchess Camilla, to have the title of Queen Consort.
“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,” the sovereign said in a statement to mark her 70th year on the throne. “And it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
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