Queen Elizabeth II: Britain’s longest-reigning monarch dies at 96

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Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has died in Scotland. Prince Charles is now king.

It is a moment that the United Kingdom has been bracing for, with an elaborate plan for “Operation London Bridge” mapping out what happens next. But it comes as a shock all the same.

Elizabeth, 96, was a symbol of stability and continuity — even through royal scandals, the contraction of the British Empire and massive changes around the world. Only days ago, she oversaw the appointment of her 15th prime minister.

The formal succession will unfold over the next 10 days, with Charles giving the world a first glimpse of what he will be like as monarch. But on Thursday, the focus was on the passing of the queen, with Britons laying flowers outside Buckingham Palace in London and tributes pouring in from around the world.

Here’s what to know

  • The royal family said in a statement: “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.”
  • Read The Washington Post’s obituary for Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The queen has been planning for her succession for some time — and Charles has been increasingly stepping in to take on more royal duties.
  • In photos: Here’s a look at the queen and 13 presidents of the United States.
Queen Elizabeth II

News of queen’s death broke as White House briefing was underway

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was about to end her briefing Thursday when reporters informed her of the queen’s death.

“Okay. All right. Well, so that’s been confirmed?” a visibly shocked Jean-Pierre said as reporters read her the notification. “As I said earlier, you know, our hearts and our thoughts go to the family members of the queen, to the people of the United Kingdom.”

Jean-Pierre said she did not want to “get ahead of what the president is going to say.”

Minutes earlier, during the briefing, she had avoided commenting extensively on the White House’s plans in case the queen died, noting that there were no official plans for the president to fly to the United Kingdom or stop by the British Embassy in Washington because the queen was still alive.

“I said this earlier, our relationship with the people of the United Kingdom, and this is something that the president has said himself, has grown stronger and stronger,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “And again, our hearts go to the people of the United Kingdom, to the queen and to her family.

“I’m just not going to get ahead of the president,” she repeated as she prepared to leave the briefing room.

Earlier in the briefing, Jean-Pierre had noted that the last time Biden and the queen spoke was in June of last year, when the president visited her in Cornwall.