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Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has died, leaving her people in mourning but reflecting on a life of duty in which she bound the country together through 70 years of momentous change.
Her death, at the age of 96, was announced by Buckingham Palace at 6.30pm yesterday. It marked a watershed moment in the life of the nation, leaving it without its “matriarch”.
The Prince of Wales was at her bedside at Balmoral, her beloved castle in the Scottish highlands, along with other members of the royal family. At the moment of her passing, her son became King Charles III.
The new King said his mother’s death was a moment of “the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family”, but said the family would be “comforted and sustained” by the respect and affection for the Queen in Britain and across the Commonwealth.
Flags across the country flew at half mast, while at Westminster a band played “God Save the King”. As dusk fell, thousands of people amassed outside Buckingham Palace to pay tribute.
The Queen, who celebrated the 70th anniversary of her reign this year, represented continuity and stability for Britain from the postwar era into the 21st century, acting as a unifying figure at times of crisis.
“She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure,” said Liz Truss, the Queen’s 15th prime minister. The Queen’s last formal function on Tuesday was to invite Truss to form a new government.
The King and his wife, Camilla, who becomes the Queen Consort, remained at Balmoral and will return to London today.
Global leaders shared their condolences from around the world.
French president Emmanuel Macron said: “I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted Queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.”
Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, offered “heartfelt condolences” to the royal family and the citizens of the UK and the Commonwealth, praising the Queen’s “poise, wisdom and respect for the institutions and for democracy”.
A statement by US president Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era.”
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What did Queen Elizabeth II mean to you? Please share your thoughts with us at [email protected] Thank you for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa — Gary
Three more stories in the news
1. Brussels faces opposition to cap price on Russian gas At least 10 EU countries, including Italy, Poland and Greece, are pushing Brussels to implement a gas price cap for all suppliers, warning that singling out Russia could push Vladimir Putin to cut flows to Europe completely. The proposal will probably be discussed only briefly at an emergency meeting today.
2. Limited support for business in Truss’s energy plan UK prime minister Liz Truss has announced an estimated £150bn package to shield Britain from soaring energy prices, with two years’ cover for households but just six months’ worth for business. She also promised to increase domestic oil and gas production, restart fracking and reform the energy market.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Helping people and businesses through the winter will mean some fiscal loosening in the short term, the new UK chancellor writes. There is no other option.
The FT View: Liz Truss dislikes “handouts”, but she has shown a readiness to be flexible when need dictates, our editorial board writes. Her bold energy plan will cost more than double the Covid-19 furlough scheme.
3. Ukraine claims significant gains in counter-offensive Ukraine claimed to have regained territory in the eastern Kharkiv region as Moscow focused on repelling Kyiv’s southern offensive around Kherson. The gains, which represent Ukraine’s most successful counter-attack since fending off Russia’s initial assault, could weaken Moscow’s hold on the Donbas region, analysts said.
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The days ahead
Bank of England The central bank releases its inflation attitudes survey today.
Corporate earnings British computer services supplier Computacenter reports half-year earnings.
Les Rendez-Vous de Septembre One of the insurance industry’s biggest gatherings begins in Monte Carlo tomorrow.
Tennis The women’s singles final of the US Open Tennis Championship takes place in New York tomorrow, followed by the men’s singles final on Sunday.
Elections Sweden holds a general election on Sunday for the Riksdag’s 349 MPs, with the populist far-right Sweden Democrats poised for a “seismic” breakthrough. Russia also has local and regional elections on the same day.
9/11 Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
What else we’re reading
A monarch who spoke for her kingdom In a nation beset by economic troubles, scarred by the polarisation of its politics and uncertain of its place in the world, the Queen was a vital anchor, Philip Stephens writes. For many, the monarch and monarchy had become indivisible.
‘Grace, humanity and fortitude’ The Queen was an enduring symbol of identity, a pivot around which her country changed perhaps even more profoundly than during the reign of her long-lived great-great-grandmother, Victoria, writes the FT editorial board.
From the archive: The Queen in style In February of this year, as the Queen marked her Platinum Jubilee, the FT charted the strategy and influence of her wardrobe — and the legacy she would leave for her successor.
The Queen’s portraits across 70 years From Cecil Beaton’s coronation portrait via Andy Warhol and Lucien Freud to a postcolonial image for the Platinum Jubilee, artists have shown humanity, politics and fantasy in their portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II.
A memoir of the Queen in her early years on the throne Sir Alan Lascelles, the Queen’s first private secretary, recalls her coming of age in his 1960 memoir. “She had an intuitive grasp of the problems of government, and indeed of life generally, that I suppose had descended to her from Queen Victoria,” Lascelles writes. “Yet she never lost sight of the human side, or the lighter side of work. To serve her was, in fact, great fun.”
A life in pictures
Explore these enduring images of the journey to the throne and the service of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
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