Royal Family members 'mourn profoundly' the death of mother and monarch Queen Elizabeth
Long-serving monarch died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland
The Royal Family is mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth, after announcing Thursday that the long-serving monarch had died at age 96.
"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," the Queen's son Charles, who automatically became king upon her death, said in a statement released Thursday.
"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."
Senior members of the royal family had rushed to Scotland earlier Thursday to be with the Queen, after Buckingham Palace announced that she was under medical supervision with doctors "concerned for Her Majesty's health."
The palace said she was "comfortable" and remained at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she had spent the summer.
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Charles, along with his wife, Camilla, and sister, Princess Anne, were already with the Queen at Balmoral Castle ahead of Thursday's announcement about her health.
A fleet of cars carrying Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, arrived at Balmoral Castle about 5 p.m. local time, about an hour after a plane carrying the royal party arrived at Aberdeen Airport.
Prince Harry, who was due to appear at a charity awards ceremony in London later Thursday, cancelled that appearance and was making his way to Scotland separately. He was travelling without his wife Meghan, PA Media reported.
The announcement about the Queen's health came a day after the Queen had cancelled a meeting of her Privy Council and was told to rest.
The Privy Council, a group of the monarch's senior advisers, was due to formally swear in Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss and her new Cabinet members at Wednesday's meeting. The session will be held at a later date.
The Queen, Britain's longest-reigning sovereign, had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace had called "episodic mobility problems" since the end of last year.
Last October, she spent a night in hospital, and she had been forced to cut back on public engagements after that.
Concern from world leaders
Prior to the news of the Queen's death, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had tweeted that his thoughts "and the thoughts of Canadians across the country" were with the monarch.
Truss, who was interrupted during a debate in the House of Commons to be informed about the Queen's condition, said on Twitter that the whole country was "deeply concerned".
"My thoughts — and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom — are with Her Majesty The Queen and her family at this time," she wrote.
The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed about the situation with the Queen.
"His and the first lady's thoughts are solidly and squarely with the Queen today and her family," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, earlier Thursday.
Britain's Parliament has Queen Elizabeth in its thoughts and prayers, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said.
Those sentiments were echoed by the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
My thoughts, and the thoughts of Canadians across the country, are with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at this time. We’re wishing her well, and sending our best to the Royal Family.—@JustinTrudeau
"Along with the rest of the country, I am deeply worried by the news from Buckingham Palace this afternoon," said British opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer.
Elizabeth marked seven decades on the throne this year. She increasingly handed over duties to Charles and other members of the Royal Family in recent months as she struggled to get around.
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace
Hundreds of well wishers stood in the rain outside Buckingham Palace, some bringing flowers, as concern over the Queen's health grew.
"I work close by and I heard on the news about Her Majesty's failing health, so I was concerned and it led me to come to Buckingham Palace, to be at the heart of the monarchy," said Alexander Caplan, 40, a technology entrepreneur in London.
Elizabeth had been Queen of Britain and more than a dozen other countries — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — since 1952. Earlier this year, she marked her 70th year on the throne with four days of national celebrations in June.
"I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come," she said at the time.
Elizabeth came to the throne after the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was just 25.
She was crowned in June the following year. The first televised coronation was a foretaste of a new world in which the lives of the royals were to become increasingly scrutinized by the media.
She became monarch at a time when Britain retained much of its empire. It was emerging from the ravages of the Second World War, with food rationing still in force and class and privilege still dominant in society.
Winston Churchill was the first prime minister who served during her reign, Joseph Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union, and the Korean War was raging.
With files from Reuters