The people have spoken. Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and more world leaders and celebrities are sending thoughts and prayers to the British royal family after news broke of Queen Elizabeth II‘s death.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday, September 8, that the queen passed away at age 96. She was the longest-reigning British monarch and the world’s longest-serving female head of state following her coronation in 1953. Hours before her death, the queen was placed under “medical supervision” due to growing concerns about her health, with members of the royal family rushing to be by her side at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.
In October 2021, she was hospitalized for one night after canceling royal appearances in Northern Ireland on medical recommendation. Though she returned to work later that month, the queen’s relatives were “urging her to take it easy,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively. The palace later released a statement confirming that Elizabeth was advised to take a two-week rest, leading her to appear virtually for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) reception in November 2021 instead of in person.
The following February, the palace confirmed that Elizabeth had tested positive for COVID-19 and would cancel her virtual duties while she recovered. Her eldest son, Prince Charles, also battled the virus that month for a second time.
Later that year, the queen’s health continued to make headlines. Before marking her Platinum Jubilee in June, Elizabeth skipped the opening day of British Parliament for only the third time in her 70-year reign. She later experienced “discomfort” after the Trooping the Colour parade, causing her to pull out of the Service of Thanksgiving in June with “great reluctance,” per a palace statement.
Elizabeth died more than one year after Prince Philip was laid to rest in April 2021. The Duke of Edinburgh was 99 years old when he “passed away peacefully” at the pair’s royal residence, with the queen’s doctor later confirming his cause of death as old age.
“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,” Elizabeth noted in a statement on her milestone 95th birthday after Philip’s death. “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.”
The queen and Philip celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020, making the pair the longest-married couple in the history of the British monarchy. The royal couple met in 1939, when the monarch was just 13 years old, and were engaged eight years later.
Elizabeth is survived by her sons, Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, as well as daughter Princess Anne. The royal matriarch also had eight grandchildren, including Prince William and Prince Harry, and 12 great-grandchildren.
The final years of the queen’s royal tenure didn’t come without their challenges. In January 2020, Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle announced that they would be stepping down from their senior royal duties. Their transition out of the spotlight was made official two months later, and the couple relocated to California with their infant son, Archie.
Buckingham Palace confirmed one year later that the Sussexes would not be returning as working members of the royal family, shortly after the couple announced they had baby No. 2 on the way. Lilibet “Lili” Diana, named in honor of the queen, arrived in June 2021. The monarch met her namesake while the Suits alum, 41, and her husband were in the U.K. for the Platinum Jubilee in June.
“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 of the meeting. “She thinks they’re adorable and gave Lili and Archie gifts.”
While Meghan and Harry’s initial exit was unexpected, Elizabeth and her staff had a firm plan in place for when her time came to step away from the throne. “Charles will serve as king with Duchess Camilla by his side,” a source told Us exclusively in November 2020, nearly two years before Her Royal Highness herself announced her hopes for Camilla, 75.
“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 noted in a February statement. “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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