Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, dies at 96

Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96. Here is a look back at the triumphs and challenges the Queen faced during her 70-year reign.

By Hana Mae Nassar and Michael Ranger

Queen Elizabeth II, the only monarch many Canadians have ever known, has died.

The 96-year-old was put under medical supervision at her Balmoral estate in Scotland after doctors became concerned for her health. Her family gathered in Scotland on Thursday to be with her.

News of the health concerns came after the Queen postponed a meeting of senior governmental advisers the night before, when doctors advised her to rest.

On Tuesday, she had a full day of activities as she presided over the ceremonial handover of power to new Prime Minister Liz Truss at her summer residence.

Buckingham Palace cancelled Friday’s ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony after news of the Queen’s deteriorating condition came to the light. Large crowds began to gather in front of the palace on Thursday afternoon before her death was made public.

The Queen had previously been advised to rest several times through the year and had been largely out of the public eye, suffering from mobility issues

In October 2021, she was advised by doctors to rest, not travel, and only take on light duties. This came after the sovereign underwent medical tests, spending time at London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital for the first time in eight years.

She was forced to cancel a trip to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland on Oct. 20, 2021. She had also cancelled plans to appear at the UN Climate Conference in Scotland.

Related: TIMELINE: Challenges the Queen faced during her 70-year reign

King Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, succeeded his mother after her passing. He is followed by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

“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,” a statement shared by Buckingham Palace on behalf of the King, reads in part.

“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.”

In her statement Thursday, Prime Minister Truss said the Queen provided people “with the stability and strength that we needed.”

“She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure,” she said.

“She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britains. Her devotion to duty is and example to us all. Earlier this week, at 96, she remained determined to carry out her duties as she appointed me as her 15th prime minister.”

Truss said while Thursday marked “a day of great loss,” the Queen leaves behind “a great legacy.”

The new prime minister offered King Charles II “loyalty and devotion, just as his mother devoted so much, to so many, for so long.”

“With the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country. Exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words, God save the King.”

Elizabeth’s seven decade reign


Elizabeth’s reign lasted more than 69 years, the longest in British monarchy history.

The eldest daughter of Prince Albert — later King George VI — and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Elizabeth’s transition to Queen was almost instantaneous.

Then-Princess Elizabeth “immediately acceded to the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II and taking on all of the responsibilities which came with her new title” upon learning of her father’s death on Feb. 6, 1952, the Royal Household says. She was on a Commonwealth tour with Prince Philip in her capacity as princess when she learned the news.

Her coronation was held on June 2, 1953, with the ceremony being broadcast on radio globally. It was also broadcast on TV for the first time, at her request.

“Television brought home to hundreds of thousands of people around the Commonwealth the splendour and significance of the Coronation in a way never before possible,” the Royal Household says.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which celebrates 70 years on the throne, was marked in February 2022.

The Queen and Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Thursday following official word of the Queen’s passing.

“It is with the deepest of sorrow that we learn today of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was our Queen for almost half of Canada’s existence and she had an obvious, deep, and abiding love and affection for Canadians,” he said.

“She served us all with strength and wisdom for 70 years, as we grew into the diverse, optimistic, responsible, ambitious, and extraordinary country we are today. As her 12th Canadian prime minister, I’m having trouble believing that my last sit-down with her was my last. I will so miss those chats. She was thoughtful, wise, curious, helpful, funny, and so much more. In a complicated world, her steady grace and resolve brought comfort and strength to us all. Canada is in mourning.

“She was one of my favourite people in the world and I will miss her so.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s ties to Canada have been vast for decades. If you look around cities and provinces, you’ll likely stumble upon a building, park, or other space named after her.

Her face is on our money, her name is spoken in law, and she has representatives on both the federal and provincial levels.

All names of Royal Canadian Navy vessels are prefixed with “HMCS” (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) and all soldiers pledge allegiance to the Queen when they join the Armed Forces.

In Canada, the governor general, currently Mary Simon, acts as the Queen’s representative. The governor general is a non-partisan and apolitical role.

“Canadians across the country will mourn the loss of The Queen. Let us take a moment to honour Her Majesty’s memory in each of our own ways,” Simon’s office tweeted Thursday.

On a provincial level, lieutenant governors act as “the highest ranking officers of their province” and represent the Queen within those jurisdictions.

Canada is among the 15 Commonwealth countries, in addition to the U.K.

Queen Elizabeth II was the most-travelled monarch in history, visiting Canada on more than 22 different occasions, the last of those trips being in 2010.

-With files from The Associated Press

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