Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. The palace announced she died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family had rushed to her side after her health took a turn for the worse. A link to the almost-vanished generation that fought World War II, she was the only monarch most Britons have ever known, and her name defines an age: the modern Elizabethan Era.
The impact of her loss will be huge and unpredictable, both for the nation and for the monarchy, an institution she helped stabilize and modernise across decades of huge social change and family scandals. She is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Queen Elizabeth II's reign
Since February 6, 1952, Elizabeth reigned over a Britain that rebuilt from war and lost its empire; joined the European Union and then left it; and transformed from an industrial powerhouse to an uncertain 21st-century society. She endured through 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, becoming an institution and an icon -- a fixed point and a reassuring presence even for those who ignored or loathed the monarchy.
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Queen Elizabeth II dedicates life to public service
When Elizabeth was 21, almost five years before she became queen, she promised the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.” Despite Britain’s complex and often fraught ties with its former colonies, Elizabeth was widely respected and remained head of state of more than a dozen countries, from Canada to Tuvalu. She headed the 54-nation Commonwealth, built around Britain and its former colonies.
Throughout her tenure, the queen has also built a bond with the people of Great Britain through a seemingly endless series of public appearances as she opened libraries, dedicated hospitals and bestowed honours on deserving citizens.
Queen Elizabeth II's humble lifestyle
Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest people, Elizabeth had a reputation for frugality. She was known as a monarch who turned off lights in empty rooms. A newspaper reporter who went undercover to work as a palace footman reinforced that down-to-earth image, capturing pictures of the royal Tupperware on the breakfast table and a rubber duck in the bath.