Minute by minute: What happened the day the Queen died and Charles became King

The death of the late Queen plunged a shocked nation into mourning for its longest-reigning monarch.

Here is how the historic day unfolded:

– Thursday September 8 2022: Rumours begin to swirl in newsrooms early on that the Queen has taken ill at Balmoral Castle, and possibly had a fall.

Two days before, the Queen was happily hosting guests on the Aberdeenshire estate, and carrying out official duties by bidding farewell to Boris Johnson and appointing Liz Truss as the new prime minister.

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The Queen welcoming Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral on Tuesday September 6 2022 (Jane Barlow/PA)

But she looked frail in photographs and postponed a Privy Council meeting on the Wednesday after being ordered by doctors to rest.

– 10.30am: Behind the scenes, the then-Prince of Wales makes a 120-mile dash by helicopter from Dumfries House to Balmoral after being alerted to the Queen’s worsening condition.

The Duchess of Cornwall cancels a not-yet publicly announced official visit to a cancer centre in Lanarkshire and travels by road from Birkhall.

Braemar Royal Highland Gathering
Anne, Charles and Camilla were already in Scotland, attending the Braemar Gathering a few days before (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Princess Royal, who is staying in Scotland, is already at the Queen’s bedside.

Charles visits his mother and later goes foraging for mushrooms on the estate as he contemplates his accession and imminent duty as king, before he returns to the Queen’s side.

– 12.12pm: Initial indications that something is afoot are seen in the House of Commons.

Then then-chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Nadhim Zahawi, sits down next to PM Liz Truss and begins whispering to her while she listens to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s response to her energy statement.

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Liz Truss speaking in the House of Commons on energy bills before she was alerted to concerns for the Queen’s health (House of Commons/PA)

Labour MP Chris Bryant tweets: “Something odd is going on in the Commons. Zahawi briefing pm urgently.”

Sir Keir, too, is passed a note by his deputy Angela Rayner, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also being handed a piece of paper updating him about the developing situation.

Ms Rayner later reveals the note read: “The Queen is unwell and Keir needs to leave the Chamber as soon as possible to be briefed.”

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Media gathering at the entrance to Balmoral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Truss and Sir Keir depart.

– 12.32pm: Buckingham Palace then issues a concerning statement, confirming the Queen is under medical supervision.

It reads: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.”The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

Close family have been informed, the Palace says.

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A florist van arrives at the gates, which are guarded by an armed police officer after the Palace announces the Queen is under medical supervision (Andrew Milligan/PA)

BBC One interrupts Bargain Hunt at 12.39pm to deliver the statement and suspends its regular programming.

– 12.46pm: Clarence House confirms Charles and Camilla have travelled to Balmoral, and a minute later Kensington Palace say William, then-the Duke of Cambridge, is to head north.

The Duchess of Cambridge remains in Windsor where her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are starting at a new school.

– 1.38pm: Palace sources say the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex are also on their way to the Queen’s Scottish home.

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A plane carrying the Duke of Sussex arrives at Aberdeen Airport as her travels to Balmoral (Paul Campbell/PA)

– 1.54pm: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce they are going to Balmoral. Charles has phoned Harry earlier to tell him of the Queen’s worsening health.

Harry texts William to ask whether he and Kate are flying up, but receives no reply.

Behind the scenes, Charles calls Harry again to ask him not to bring Meghan.

The duke says in his memoir that he tells his father “Don’t ever speak about my wife that way”.

Charles says only immediate family will be there, and not Kate.

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Harry and Meghan were staying in Windsor ahead of a WellChild engagement, which was later cancelled (Joe Giddens/PA)

– 2.39pm: A Royal Air Force flight takes off from RAF Northolt in South Ruislip, west London, carrying William, Andrew, Edward and Sophie.

– 3.10pm: Elizabeth II – the nation’s longest reigning monarch – dies at the age of 96 in her bedroom in the castle, surrounded by Charles, who immediately accedes to the throne as the new King, Camilla and Anne. Also there is the Queen’s doctor, GP Douglas Glass.

Her death – the cause of which is listed on her death certificate as old age – brings an end to the Second Elizabethan age which has spanned 70 years.

Reception at Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Queen reigned for more than 70 years (Jane Barlow/PA)

– 3.50pm: The royals on the RAF plane, a Dassault Falcon, land at Aberdeen airport, too late to say their final farewells.

– 4.30pm: Prime Minister Liz Truss is informed of the Queen’s death by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

-4.38pm: Sources close to Harry and Meghan say Harry is now travelling alone. He charters a private flight from Luton.

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The Duke of Cambridge drives a car carrying the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex into Balmoral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– Just after 5pm: A fleet of cars, including a Range Rover driven by William, arrives at Balmoral.

Andrew is in the passenger seat and Edward and Sophie are in the back.

– 5.50pm: A double rainbow appears over Buckingham Palace after a heavy downpour as members of the public gather outside.

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A rainbow is seen, as members of the public gather outside Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)

– 6.30pm: News of the Queen’s death is announced to the world.

A Buckingham Palace statement reads: “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.”

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The announcement confirming the death of the Queen (Buckingham Palace/PA)

The union flag at Buckingham Palace is lowered to half mast.

Newsreader Huw Edwards reads out the news on the BBC. Tributes flood in from around the globe.

– 7.04pm: Charles issues his first statement as King, and describes his mother’s death as “a moment of the greatest sadness”.

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The Union Flag above Buckingham Palace is flown at half mast following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II (Yui Mok/PA)

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother,” the new sovereign says.

“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

– 7.07pm: Prime Minister Liz Truss, dressed in black, addresses the nation outside No 10.

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Prime Minister Liz Truss reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street following the death of the Queen (Dominic/PA)

“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,” she says announcing the monarch’s choice of regnal title for the first time.

– Around 8pm: Harry arrives at Balmoral. He is in the air when the announcement of the Queen’s death is made.

When he lands at Aberdeen airport, he receives a text from Meghan telling him to call, but learns the news after checking the BBC’s website on his phone.

The duke is greeted at the castle by Anne. Charles, William and Camilla – the new Queen – have already left for Birkhall.

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Harry arriving at Balmoral in Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Harry visits the late Queen’s body to pay his respects, whispering that he hopes she is happy and “with Grandpa”.

Behind the scenes, the long-held London Bridge plans for the Queen’s death are rapidly put into action, setting out the next 11 days according to a strict timetable which feature a lying in state and then the solemnity and grandeur of a state funeral.

A grieving Charles and Camilla dine with William at Birkhall, and prepare to return to London the next day, Friday, with the King due to address the nation on television.

The King’s historic Accession Council is set for Saturday September 10.