Queen Elizabeth II, Longest-Reigning British Monarch, Dead at 96

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning royal monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, has died at 96 years old. Her death comes just under 18 months after the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of more than 73 years.

The Queen died at Balmoral, her beloved palace in the Scottish Highlands, which was purchased by her great-great-grandfather Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852. She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Her eldest son, Prince Charles, succeeds her.

"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," the palace said in a statement. "Flags across the U.K. were lowered to half-mast ahead of a national minute's silence and the start of an official period of mourning."

Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth assumed the throne in 1953 after the death of her father, King George VI. She is survived by her four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The Queen is also survived by many grandchildren, including Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry. In addition, Elizabeth also had eight great-grandchildren.

Notably, reaction plans for the Queen's death have been in place since the 1960s. Dubbed "Operation London Bridge," according to Politico, the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms have a process in place for exactly how to handle things in the wake of the Queen's passing. It was previously reported that "London Bridge is down" was expected to be the phrase used to communicate to the prime minister of the United Kingdom — Boris Johnson —as well as key personnel, that the Queen has died.

Her death will be recognized across the world. As part of the plans in Canada, an official mourning period for Elizabeth II will take place. The length of said period will be determined by the federal government. All staff of the governor-general, territorial commissioners and provincial lieutenant governors will be immediately issued black ties and black armbands, during the official mourning period.

In Australia, a flag notice will be issued instructing flags to fly at half-mast for the next ten days. The one exception to this guideline is the day that Prince Charles is announced as the new King of England. Additionally, the Australian Defence Force will organize several gun salutes that coincide with events in London and will participate in ceremonies held throughout the United Kingdom.


Finally, in New Zealand, the head of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will issue an order for a list of specific government buildings and other national facilities, to fly the New Zealand flag at half-mast. There will also be twenty-one gun salutes ordered "at appropriate times." New Zealand will likely hold a memorial service as well, but all decisions regarding accompanying events and government protocol will be determined by the prime minister.