Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday at age 96, Buckingham Palace announced.
The queen, who spent 70 years on the throne, passed away at her summer home of Balmoral Castle in Scotland after doctors expressed concern earlier in the day about her health.
Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor in London on April 21, 1926, she was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. Young Elizabeth had never been expected to become queen. But in 1936, Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and Elizabeth’s father became King George VI. Following the death George VI at age 56, Elizabeth took the throne in February 1952.
The queen’s 73-year-old son, Prince Charles, automatically became King when she died.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
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Following the news of her death, U.S. leaders paid tribute to the queen.
“Today, Americans join the people of the United Kingdom in mourning the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted. “Over her seven decades on the throne, Her Majesty was a pillar of leadership in the global arena and a devoted friend of freedom.”
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama issued a joint statement calling the queen a “dedicated” and “dignified” leader.
“Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty and she meant a great deal to us. Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity,” the statement said. “Like so many, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service.”
Statement by President Obama and Mrs. Obama
on the Passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II pic.twitter.com/pztVvvV6Dg
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 8, 2022