A plane carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lands at the British Air Force base in London

A plane carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lands at the British Air Force base in London. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a symbol of stability in a turbulent time that saw the decline of the British Empire and disarray in her own family, has died after 70 years on the throne. She was 96 years old.

The palace announced that she died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family rushed to her side after her health deteriorated. A link to the nearly extinct generation that fought in World War II, she was the only monarch most Britons had ever known.

His 73-year-old son Prince Charles has automatically become king and will be known as King Charles III, it has been announced. British monarchs in the past have chosen new names upon their accession to the throne. Charles’ second wife, Camilla, will be known as the Queen Consort. The BBC played the national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’, over a portrait of Elizabeth in full dress at news of her death, and the flag above Buckingham Palace was lowered to half mast at the end of the Second Elizabethan Age.

The impact of her loss will be enormous and unpredictable, both for the nation and for the monarchy, an institution she helped stabilize and modernize through decades of enormous social change and family scandals, but whose relevance in the 21st century has often been questioned. The public’s continued affection for the Queen helped maintain support for the monarchy during the scandals. Charles is not nearly as popular.

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