The Daily Telegraph

Family fly to Balmoral as Elizabetha­n Age ends at the place Her Majesty loved best

Britain’s longest-serving monarch, grandmothe­r of the nation, dies ‘peacefully’ at her Scottish home

- By Hannah Furness ROYAL EDITOR

QUEEN ELIZABETH II has died at the age of 96, at the Balmoral home she loved so much.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch passed away yesterday afternoon, the news announced after the Queen’s family had flown in to be together at her Scottish estate.

Queen Elizabeth II had pledged to dedicate her life to duty and did just that until her final days, appointing her 15th prime minister just 48 hours before her death.

Buckingham Palace confirmed she had died in a statement at 6.30pm.

Her Majesty’s health is understood to have deteriorat­ed rapidly yesterday, with members of her family making last-minute arrangemen­ts to fly to Balmoral.

She is succeeded by her eldest son and heir, whom a spokesman confirmed will be known as King Charles III.

In a written statement last night, he described his mother’s death as a “moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family”. The Duchess of Cornwall has become the Queen Consort.

Queen Elizabeth’s death comes after one of the most significan­t periods of her reign, in which she rallied the nation during the coronaviru­s pandemic and felt the affection of her people as she returned to public life after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and celebrated her Platinum Jubilee year.

The news will set in motion a period of national mourning for a monarch few can remember life without.

It was announced in a brief but moving statement, only after senior members of the Royal family gathered at Balmoral to say their final farewell.

Under the simple heading “Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022” in the statement issued at 6.30pm, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

For her millions of admirers, news of the Queen’s death came suddenly, just six hours after it emerged she was seriously unwell.

She was last photograph­ed formally appointing the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral on Tuesday. She postponed a virtual Privy Council meeting the following day, after being advised by doctors to rest.

At 12.30pm yesterday Buckingham Palace announced that she was under the care of her doctors at her Scottish home. “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommende­d she remain under medical supervisio­n,” a spokesman said. “The Queen remains comfortabl­e and at Balmoral.”

The news, relayed to the Royal family only shortly beforehand, set in motion a major operation to bring her four children and the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex to her side.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who were already in Scotland, travelled by helicopter from Dumfries House in the first sign to the public of how serious the Queen’s condition was.

The Duke of Cambridge, who had that morning dropped his three children off for their first full day of school, made emergency arrangemen­ts to travel from Windsor. He flew on an RAF plane with the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Landing at 3.50pm, the Duke was seen driving the family between Aberdeen airport and Balmoral. They arrived at the castle just after 5pm, by which time news of the Queen’s death had been delivered to their inner circle. The Duchess of Cambridge chose to stay at home to be there when her children returned from school and relay the news about their great-grandmothe­r in person. In Britain for a few days by coincidenc­e, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex cancelled an engagement at the Wellchild awards yesterday evening and were said by a spokesman to be heading to Balmoral together.

This was later amended to say Prince Harry was travelling alone, returning to his family in their hour of deepest sorrow. He was photograph­ed arriving at Balmoral shortly before 8pm, four hours after his brother and uncles.

The Prime Minister was told of the Queen’s death at 4.30pm by Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary. She spoke to the King shortly before delivering her public statement, in which she paid tribute to Her Majesty as the “rock on which modern Britain was built”.

The Queen’s death at Balmoral may well come as deep comfort for her family, who knew how much her Scottish home meant to her. She is the first monarch to die there.

Her four children and most of her grandchild­ren and great-grandchild­ren have spent time with her there this summer, enjoying the countrysid­e of the Highlands and the picnics that have been such a part of their summer retreat for decades.

Last night, the magnitude of the Queen’s death was captured by tributes from world leaders, her prime ministers and the public, the vast majority of whom, an estimated 58.8million in the UK alone, have never known life without her. This summer, millions turned out to show the Queen just how much she meant to them, in Platinum Jubilee celebratio­ns that saw her appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony to uproarious cheers.

Her Majesty had enjoyed remarkably good health until her mid-90s, where she scaled back her public appearance­s after suffering mobility issues and illness that required her to rest.

As she increasing­ly suffered from what Buckingham Palace described as “episodic mobility problems”, she was compelled to miss events, including the state opening of parliament, service of remembranc­e at the Cenotaph and Commonweal­th Day. In February 2022, she contracted Covid-19 amid an outbreak at Windsor Castle, but appeared to have recovered well.

She appeared at the Chelsea Flower Show in a golf buggy in a rare concession to her age, but went on a miss a string of her favourite engagement­s from Royal Ascot to the Braemar Games just last weekend. Through it all, she maintained her devotion to her constituti­onal duties, reading her red boxes and holding audiences.

Moving out of the Buckingham Palace “office” to the more homely Windsor Castle, she embraced a new era of video calls to keep up her duties without inconvenie­ncing others.

The announceme­nt of her death marks the start of a period of national mourning, with the Royal court to spend one month officially honouring her memory. Across the country, Union flags will be lowered, church services held and condolence books offered for members of the public to pay their respects during the most seismic institutio­nal change of most of their lifetimes.

Her Majesty’s many admirers are expected to be welcomed to commemorat­e her life over the coming 10 days, as she lies in state at Westminste­r Hall, in a funeral at Westminste­r Abbey and a spectacula­r ceremonial procession to her final resting place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

There, she will be laid to rest next to the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021 aged 99, in services designed around her deeply devoted Christian beliefs. Buckingham Palace will release official arrangemen­ts for the funeral in the coming days, after they have been signed off by the new King.

Aides have now instigated Operation London Bridge, the codename for the Queen’s funeral plans. The funeral is expected to take place in 10 days’ time.

Queen Elizabeth II overtook Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-serving monarch in September 2015.

She will go down in history as one of the nation’s greatest sovereigns, having steered the country through the Cold War, given counsel to 15 prime ministers and built the Commonweal­th into an organisati­on whose membership grew throughout her reign.

After navigating difficult times for the Royal family, affection and loyalty for her was at a high in her latter years in which she was viewed as the grandmothe­r of the nation and a beacon of stability.

During her reign, she visited 116 countries on 261 official overseas visits, which included 78 state visits, making her by far the most travelled monarch in history.

She also worked tirelessly to promote the more than 600 charities of which she was patron. Despite her exhaustive schedule of engagement­s, the Queen would begin every day by reading through State papers sent to her by government department­s in the famous “red boxes”, approving and signing them where necessary.

This routine never varied, no matter where in the world she was.

When she was born on April 21 1926, Elizabeth’s parents had no reason to expect that she would one day be Queen; her father’s older brother, Edward VIII, was heir to the throne, and it was only on his abdication in 1936 that Elizabeth became heir presumptiv­e.

On her 21st birthday, in an address from Cape Town, she had declared that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”. She spent the rest of her life making good on that pledge, and the nation showed its gratitude to her with the memorable celebratio­ns of her silver, golden, diamond and platinum jubilees.

The Queen is survived by her four children: the new King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex. She had eight grandchild­ren and 12 great-grandchild­ren.

The Duke of Cambridge has immediatel­y inherited his father’s dukedom. He and his wife will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

‘On her 21st birthday, she declared that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to service”’

 ?? ?? The official notice outside Buckingham Palace announcing the Queen’s death yesterday
The official notice outside Buckingham Palace announcing the Queen’s death yesterday

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