Double rainbow appears over Buckingham Palace just before death of Queen Elizabeth II is announced

As crowds gathered in rain-swept London Thursday evening due to the news that Queen Elizabeth II was gravely ill, the clouds suddenly parted, revealing a double rainbow above Buckingham Palace.

Approximately 20 minutes after the appearance of the rainbow, the palace issued a statement at 6:30 p.m. local time announcing that Elizabeth had passed away at Balmoral Castle, her retreat in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Double rainbow
A double rainbow appeared outside Buckingham Palace in London on Thursday. (Toby Melville) (REUTERS)

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the statement read. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Yahoo News editor Ed Hornick, who was vacationing in London, shot a picture of the rainbow shortly after 6 p.m. London time that he posted to Twitter.

While the public announcement of the queen's death came at 6:30 p.m., Elizabeth actually had passed away earlier in the day; the prime minister's office was informed at 4:30 p.m., according to Sky News.

Coinciding with reports of her declining health, the queen's family began arriving at Balmoral early Thursday. Her death at 96 marked the end of an extraordinary 70-year reign as sovereign. Following a period of silence that followed the announcement that Elizabeth had died, the crowd gathered at Buckingham Palace joined in a chorus of "God Save the Queen."