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Queen Elizabeth II dies on Thursday at 96

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history, died on Thursday. She was 96.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement at 6.30pm (1730 GMT).

The eldest of her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, becomes king immediately.

The queen’s death came after the palace announced on Thursday that doctors were “concerned” for her health.

Two days earlier the queen appointed Liz Truss as the 15th prime minister of her reign and was seen smiling in photographs but looking frail and using a walking stick.

Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne aged just 25 in 1952 in the aftermath of World War II, joining a world stage dominated by political figures from China’s Mao Zedong to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and US president Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Her 70-year reign straddled two centuries of social, political and technological upheaval.

The last vestiges of Britain’s empire crumbled. Brexit shook the foundations of her kingdom, and her family endured a series of scandals.

She remained consistently popular and was queen and head of state not just of the United Kingdom but 14 former British colonies, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

She was also head of the 56-nation Commonwealth, which takes in a quarter of humanity, and supreme governor of the Church of England, the mother church of the worldwide Anglican communion.

Television and radio stations interrupted regular programming to broadcast the news of her death , with long-rehearsed special schedules set in place to remember her long life and reign.

The national anthem, “God Save the Queen”, was played. Flags were lowered and church bells tolled to remember a woman once described as the “last global monarch”.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was for most of her subjects the only monarch they have ever known — an immutable figurehead on stamps, banknotes and coins.

Diminutive in stature yet an icon of popular culture, she was instantly recognisable in her brightly coloured suits and matching hat, with pearls, gloves and a handbag.

During her reign, the royals went from stiff, remote figures to tabloid fodder and were then popularised anew in television dramas such as “The Crown,” watched by tens of millions worldwide.

Her time on the throne spanned an era of remarkable change, from the Cold War to the 9/11 attacks, from climate change to coronavirus, “snail mail” and steam ships to email and space exploration.

She became seen as the living embodiment of post-war Britain and a link between the modern era and a bygone age.

The palace had long recognised her mortality and the transition to Charles was already well under way.

He, his eldest son Prince William, who now becomes heir, and his wife, Catherine, began to assume more of the queen’s official roles.

The coronavirus pandemic and her advanced years forced her into the splendid isolation of Windsor Castle, west of London.

From behind its stately walls, she remained a reassuring presence, appearing on video calls with members of the public.

After a unscheduled night in hospital in October 2021 following undisclosed health tests, her appearances became rarer.

“None of us will live forever,” she told world leaders attending a UN climate change summit soon afterwards, urging them to leave a legacy for generations to come.

Credit Bangkok Post

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