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, Balmoral and Windsor Castle – 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.”
The Queen dedicated her life to her royal duty.
She was the first British monarch in history to reach her Platinum Jubilee, and has died just three months after the national celebrations in June celebrating her 70 years on the throne.
The Queen was also the longest-reigning still-serving monarch in the world.
She mourned the loss of her beloved husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died aged 99 in April 2021.
A figure of stability in national life, the Queen was head of state, the armed forces, the Commonwealth and the Church of England.
The majority of the population has known no other monarch.
The Queen is expected to lie in state in a few days’ time, with her funeral held in Westminster Abbey in central London in around 10 days.
Alongside her public duties, the Queen was also a mother of four, grandmother to eight and great-grandmother of 12 great-grandchildren, and the royal family is now grieving for its matriarch.
One of the most famous women in the world, the Queen, recognisable for her colourful hats and distinctive wave, was known for her love of horses, racing and corgis.
She also had a deep Christian faith, and as a long-reigning constitutional monarch, her knowledge and professionalism were unparalleled.
The new King, Charles, is expected to speak to the nation and lead the tributes to his beloved mother.
The Duchess of Cornwall is now Queen, and as a Queen Consort, will be crowned at Charles’s side at his eventual coronation.
Fears dramatically escalated for the Queen’s health on Thursday when the Palace announced the Queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral.
The royal family including all of the monarch’s four children and the Duke of Cambridge made the urgent dash to be by her bedside.