Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle, Scotland at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace reported Thursday. She served as the national figurehead for Great Britain for seven decades, officially succeeding her father King George VI, on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25. She was preceded in death by Her Majesty’s consort, the late Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Her Majesty’s death follows reports that she was unable to travel to Buckingham Palace to receive the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Instead, he and his successor, Liz Truss, met her at Balmoral. The occasion marked the first time a prime minister will resign and a new prime minister appointed away from Buckingham Palace.
Foreign Policy called the late Queen “a Queen for the Ages,” and noted the imprint on world policy that her seven decade reign left. While the British public reportedly put some issues to the back burner, out of respect for the late Queen, there are expectations for upheaval in the British public.
Queen Elizabeth is succeeded as regent by her son, Prince Charles of Wales, who will take the throne as King Charles III. The King and Queen Consort, Lady Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will remain at Balmoral for the time being, Buckingham Palace noted in an official statement. Media reports state that the King and Queen Consort are expected to return to London on Friday.
King Charles III will now become regent over the United Kingdom, and its 14 realms, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, a system where the monarch shares a portion of power with the constitutionally organized government.
Public opinion of the late Queen’s descendants, including the King and Queen Consort, may lead to sharp scrutiny of the monarchy, reportedly expected to lead to upheaval in the British political system at large. This may include renewed efforts to remove the link to the Commonwealth by territories such as Australia, causing ripples in the Western political world.
The New York Times called Queen Elizabeth the “beacon of stability” for the United Kingdom. The Queen’s passing was noted by Mark Landler as “an incalculable moment” and a “watershed” moment for the future of the island nation.
“It marks both the loss of a revered monarch—the only one most Britons have ever known—and the end of a figure who served as a living link to the glories of World War II Britain, presided over its fitful adjustment to a post-colonial, post-imperial era and saw it through its bitter divorce from the European Union,” Landler wrote.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with the newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier on Thursday, addressing that the late Queen’s health was failing. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre publicly stated that Biden intends to formally address the public on the late Queen’s passing, and the enduring diplomatic ties between the United States and Great Britain, ABC reported.