Queen Elizabeth's death has brought an end to a record-breaking reign.
The 96-year-old monarch passed away at her Balmoral estate on Thursday (08.09.22) afternoon, just months after celebrating her Platinum Jubilee, which marked 70 years on the throne.
Before her death, the queen broke a string of records thanks to her longevity on the throne.
On 21 December, 2007, Her Majesty surpassed her great-great-grandmother to be the longest-lived British monarch and on 9 September 2015, she took the records for longest-reigning British monarch and female head of state in the world. Following the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol in October 2016, she became the longest-reigning current monarch and longest-serving current head of state.
February 2017 saw her become the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee.
The queen first met Philip – who was then known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark – in 1934 and they began to exchange letters in 1939. She was 21 when their engagement was announced in July 1947 and they married just four months later on 20 November, 1947, with her husband given the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
They began their married life at Windlesham Moore near Windsor Castle before moving to Clarence House in London in July 1949, though they spent several periods living in Malta, where Philip was based with the Royal Navy.
The couple’s first child, Prince Charles, was born in November 1948, and his sister Princess Anne arrived in August 1950. The queen’s pregnancies with her youngest children, Princes Andrew and Edward, in 1959 and 1963 marked the only times she did not perform the State Opening of Parliament during her reign.
Elizabeth was just 25 when she was made Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries – the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon – and Head of the Commonwealth following the death of her father, King George VI.
George had been in ill health for a long time, and as a result an accession declaration was carried by Elizabeth’s private secretary when she undertook royal tours from October 1951. She and Philip were in Kenya, a stop before a tour of Australia and New Zealand, when news broke that her father had died on 6 February.
The couple quickly flew back to the UK and the new queen “of course” chose to retain Elizabeth as her regnal moniker.
The queen’s coronation didn’t take place until 2 June 1953 – two months after the death of her grandmother, Queen Mary – and was the first time the ceremony had been televised.
The 1960s and 70s saw over 20 countries in Africa and the Caribbean gain independence from Britain in a move towards self-government.
During the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1981, six shots were fired at the queen from close range as she rode down the Mall, and months later, a shot was fired at her from the fifth-floor of a building in New Zealand, but the would-be teenage attacker missed. The following year, a serious security breach took place when the queen woke to find intruder Michael Fagan in her room and assistance only arrived after two calls to the Palace police switchboard.
The early 1990s marked a particularly low point for the queen, who famously declared 1992 her “annus horribilis” in a speech to mark her Ruby Jubilee. It was a period when Prince Andrew’s marriage to Sarah, Duchess of York, ended, as did Anne’s to Captain Mark Philips, while the union between Charles and Princess Diana was disintegrating publicly and they officially separated in December that year. In addition, Windsor Castle was badly damaged by fire and Mauritius officially removed the Queen as Head of State.
She faced further criticism following the death of Diana in a car crash in August 1997 after failing to publicly address the news for several days and not having the flags at Buckingham Palace flown at half-mast.
The queen’s Golden Jubilee year in 2002 was marred by the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret, and her mother Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in February and March respectively.
In 2015, the queen and Philip made their final overseas visit, fittingly to Malta, where they had previously called home. Prior to then, Elizabeth had travelled to a staggering 117 countries. Since 2015, foreign tours have been undertaken by other members of the royal family, with the queen and her husband – who retired in 2017 – continuing with domestic trips.
Her beloved husband Philip died in April 2021, just two months shy of his 100th birthday and she poignantly had to sit alone at his scaled-back funeral service because of restrictions in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Elizabeth took a break from the public eye last October after being hospitalised for an undisclosed condition and then suffering a back sprain, with doctors advising her to rest.
She spent several months of light duties involving private meetings and virtual audiences before returning to public duties with a walking stick.
In February, she contracted COVID-19 and was said to be experiencing “mild, cold-like symptoms” but caused concern when she pulled out of a number of virtual appointments.
During her official Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June, the queen made two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour and a third, unannounced, appearance alongside Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after the Platinum Pageant brought the weekend to a close.
However, her health issues meant she was abscent from a number of other events over the celebration period, including the National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral and the Epsom Derby.
Her final official duties were audiences with departing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his successor, new leader Liz Truss.
In a break with tradition, both politicians travelled to Balmoral for the ceremonies, marking the first time the meetings have taken place outside of Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.
The queen is survived by her children, Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward, and eight grandchildren,
Prince William, Prince Harry, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louse Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
She also had 12 great-grandchildren – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, Savannah and Isla Philips, Mia, Lena, and Lucas Tindall, August Brooksbank, and Sienna Mapelli Mozzi.