Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, has died at age 96, Buckingham Palace announced.
The queen died on Thursday as members of her immediate family rushed to be by her side, including her son and heir, Prince Charles.
“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.”
Upon the announcement, Prince Charles, the former Prince of Wales, has immediately become king. His title will be passed down to his son Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. However, Charles won’t be officially named until Friday — one day after the death of the monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952 when she was just 25 years old. Hers is the longest reign of any monarch in British history. In 2015, she surpassed the record held by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who spent 62 years on the throne. This year she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, making her the second-longest serving monarch in world history, following France’s King Louis XIV, who ruled for 72 years and 110 days. In those 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II oversaw 15 prime ministers, including Winston Churchill, the World War II statesman, and Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister. Over the seven decades she lived through several historic moments including the Second World War — she was the last surviving head of state to have served in the war — and the independence of over 20 nations in Africa and the Caribbean from the United Kingdom.