Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognisable to billions of people around the world, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday.
Her eldest son, Charles, 73, succeeds as king immediately, according to centuries of protocol, beginning a new, less certain chapter for the royal family after the queen’s record-breaking 70-year reign.
Queen Elizabeth II’s closest family had earlier travelled to join the 96-year-old monarch on Thursday after doctors placed her under medical supervision, prompting concern from British political and religious leaders.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch has been dogged by health problems since last October that have left her struggling to walk and stand.
All her children — heir to the throne Prince Charles, 73, Princess Anne, 72, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Edward, 58, were either at or heading to join her at the Balmoral royal estate in Scotland, aides said.
Also heading to Balmoral was Charles’s elder son Prince William along with his younger son Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who have been on a rare visit to Britain after abandoning royal life to move to the United States.