The nation’s new King has described the death of the Queen, who he called his “beloved Mother”, as the “greatest sadness” for his family.
One of the first acts of the new monarch – whose title has been confirmed by the Prime Minister as King Charles III – was to speak of his grief and highlight the “respect and deep affection” in which the Queen was “so widely held”.
His words came soon after Buckingham Palace confirmed Elizabeth II, 96, the nation’s longest-reigning monarch who served as head of state for more than 70 years, died “peacefully” on Thursday afternoon.
Charles said in a written statement: “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is 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.
“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.”
Addressing the nation from Downing Street, Liz Truss announced Charles’s new title.
She said: “Today the crown passes, as it has done for more than 1,000 years, to our new monarch, to our new head of state, His Majesty King Charles III.”
Ms Truss also paid tribute to the late monarch’s “great legacy” and said: “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign.
“Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”
She added: “Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.
“She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure.
In a statement, the Palace said: “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.”
World leaders, celebrities and ordinary people – gathered at the gates of Buckingham Palace – have all paid tribute to the Queen, who was described by US president Joe Biden as “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity”.
The nation began to stop to mourn its former monarch, with the Mercury Prize for leading musicians postponed and play at the PGA Championship golf event at Wentworth suspended.
Mr Biden said about the Queen’s “history-making reign” – which passed the 70-year milestone in February – that it “bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity”.
He also credited the Queen with being “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“She helped make our relationship special.”