Queen Elizabeth dies, aged 96

Published 6:56am 9 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth dies, aged 96
Words by Kylie Knight

Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96, after a more than 70-year reign.

Buckingham Palace released a statement just after 6.30pm on Thursday local time (3.30am Friday AEST).

"The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," the statement read.

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

Her death follows health and mobility issues in recent months and a scaling-back of official duties - the last of which was the appointment of Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier this week. 

Charles, who will be known as King Charles III, issued a statement saying his beloved mother’s death was a "moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family".

"We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother," he said.

"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."

The Queen's body is expected to be taken from Balmoral, Scotland, to Edinburgh on Friday morning (local time).

Her body is then expected to be taken to Buckingham Palace's throne room to lay in state for four days in Westminster Hall.

A period of national mourning will be declared ahead of the Queen's funeral, which will be held at Westminster Abbey, London, in 10 days' time.

The Accession Council will gather in the coming hours to proclaim Charles as the new sovereign. He will attend accession ceremonies in Scotland and Wales before returning to London.

Australia's Governor-General David Hurley has paid tribute to her lifetime of tireless service.

“She was a truly remarkable person. When I reflect on my own memories – she was my Queen for my whole life – I think of Her Majesty’s dignity and her compassion," he said.

“Her dedication and tireless work ethic. And her selflessness and unwavering commitment to the people whom she served. To us.

“Her death will sadden all Australians and will be felt around the world.

“As we mourn, we should also take inspiration from and give thanks for the remarkable contribution Her Majesty has made.”

Era of enduring calm

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says few have known a world without Queen Elizabeth II.

“The government and the people of Australia offer our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are grieving for a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother - the person whom for so long was their greatest inner strength,” he said.

“Australian hearts go out to the people of the UK who mourn today, knowing they will feel they have lost part of what makes their nation whole.

“There is comfort to be found in Her Majesty's own words: ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’.

“In her seven remarkable decades on the throne, Her Majesty was a rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change.

“Through the noise and tumult of the years, she embodied and exhibited a timeless decency and an enduring calm.

“From the moment the young princess became Queen, shouldering the mighty weight of the institution into which she was born, Her Majesty made dedication to duty and service above self the hallmark of her reign.

“We saw those qualities each time she visited our shores, and she graced us on 16 occasions during her reign.”

The Prime Minister and Governor General will travel to the United Kingdom next week to meet with King Charles III and attend the Queen’s funeral.

Condolences from Queensland

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk extended her sincere condolences to the royal family on behalf of Queenslanders.

“Her Majesty visited here often and displayed her care and concern for the people of this state, especially during times of natural disasters,” she said.

“The Queen was a great source of comfort and assurance to us all throughout Her Majesty’s long reign.

“Her Majesty was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.”

Government House will open to the public as an official place of mourning between 8am and 4pm on Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10.

Dedicated to 'your service'

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

That was the pledge made by Queen Elizabeth II in a speech from Cape Town, South Africa on her 21st birthday.

Her Majesty kept the promise for 75 years, working right through her retirement years, until two days ago when she appointed Liz Truss as Britain's new Prime Minister.

Queen Elizabeth is the longest reigning monarch in Britain, having been on the throne 70 years, 214 days - and is the world’s longest reigning female monarch.

Only Louis XIV of France has reigned longer. He died in 1715 having reigned for 72 years 110 days.

Queen Elizabeth carried out her duties while having a full family life raising four children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.

She was a regular visitor to Australia, arriving first in 1954, opening the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and returning four years later for her Silver Jubilee.

In total, Her Majesty visited on these shores 16 times, the last being in 2011, though support continued from afar, especially during times of hardship and disasters.

Queen Elizabeth sent special messages to firefighters after the 2015 blazes in South Australia and Victoria and in 2018 following the droughts.

The Queen was born in London at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, to the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was home schooled and it is said showed a remarkable sense of 'responsibility' even as an infant.

The Queen first met her husband Prince Philip in 1939 and by 1944, when she was 18, it is said they were in love. They were married on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey.

On February 6, 1952 her father King George VI died. Elizabeth was told the news and became Queen while at a game lodge in Kenya.

She was crowned Queen on June 2, 1953 before a then remarkable worldwide TV audience of 20 million people.

As Britain began changing from post-war austerity to the swinging sixties, Monarchy was gradually replaced by the term Royal Family.

It was also the name used in a landmark documentary about their family life which is said removed much of the Royals' mystique.

Street parties were held in 1977 to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee and again earlier this year during her Platinum Jubilee.

There was also sadness with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew marrying and divorcing. It led the Queen to describe 1992 as her "annus horribilis".

Queen Elizabeth helped steer the Commonwealth through times of huge change as the British Empire ended and the world order dramatically changed.

During her reign the Cold War reached its height; the Berlin Wall came down; Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, released and became South Africa’s first President.

Man first walked on the moon; Britain had its first female Prime Minister, Britain entered and left the European Union, a blaze ruined large parts of Windsor Castle, the Internet arrived as did mobile phones and electric cars. 

However, Queen Elizabeth's dedication to her duty never waivered, even when losing her husband Prince Philip last year and sister Princess Margaret and mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, both in 2002.

Yet there was also a willingness to modernise. The national outpouring of grief when Princess Diana died and criticism of the Royal Family in the following days, led to a number of royal protocols changing.

While looking to the future, Queen Elizabeth also maintained the workings and many traditions of the Royal Family. Always smiling, rarely showing personal emotion, never commenting publicly.

Her televised Christmas Message, attending the Royal Ascot race meeting, Windsor Horse Show and Highland Games were among her favourite events.

Indeed no-one has welcomed and worked with more world leaders than Queen Elizabeth with many being greeted at Buckingham Palace.

During her reign there were 16 Australian Prime Ministers, 14 US Presidents and 15 UK Prime Ministers.

Robert Menzies was prime Minister of Australia in 1952 when she was crowned. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister in the UK and Harry S Truman President of the United States.

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