Queen Elizabeth II dies peacefully heralding the reign of King Charles III

The longest-serving monarch in British history,  Queen Elizabeth II, has died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday afternoon.

The death of the Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms and head of the 54-nation Commonwealth comes two days after undertaking her final public constitutional duty, with the appointment of the 15th prime minister of her 70-year reign.

The death of Queen Elizabeth at 96 years of age and for whom abdication was never an option, heralds the reign of her son, King Charles III.

Her death draws to a close the country’s second Elizabethan era meaning Prince Charles now becomes king, and the Duchess of Cornwall the Queen Consort.

In a statement on Thursday evening, the King said: “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.”

All four of her children rushed to Balmoral after the Palace announced in a statement at 12.32pm that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral after her doctors said they were “concerned for her health”.

Prince Charles was the first to arrive. As the nation awaited anxiously for news, the Duke of Cambridge, Duke of York, and Earl and Countess of Wessex flew from RAF Northolt arriving at Balmoral at around 5pm. The Duke of Sussex also travelled separately to Scotland, arriving after the other members of the family.

At 6.30pm, Buckingham Palace announced: “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 Buckingham Palace flag was lowered to half mast.

As tributes flow in from across the globe, the nation now enters a period of official mourning, which begins on Friday and will last for 10 days.

As is traditional, officials brought a notice confirming the Queen’s death to the gates of Buckingham Palace. Crowds gathered outside royal residences, many in tears.

Elizabeth II will be accorded a state funeral at Westminster Abbey, expected to be held on Monday 19 September, though that has not yet been confirmed.

She is expected in coming days to lie in rest for 24 hours at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, with members of the public able to file past the coffin before it is flown to London for her official lying-in-state.