Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at the age of 96 on Thursday 8 September 2022 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Her Majesty was head of state not only of the United Kingdom but also Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
After the death of her father, King George VI, Princess Elizabeth became Queen on 6 February 1952 and was crowned on 2 June 1953. By the time of her death she had become the longest-lived British monarch. Her 70 years on the throne made her the second-longest-reigning monarch in global history.
Over the course of her reign, she was head of state of 32 countries and head of the Commonwealth, an institution that she supported passionately. Queen Elizabeth knew 15 British prime ministers from Churchill to Truss, 14 US Presidents from Truman to Biden and almost every other world leader of note, as well as stars of sport, stage, screen and much more.
Queen Elizabeth visited the Caribbean on many occasions, starting in her coronation year with a trip to Bermuda and Jamaica. An extensive tour in 1966 took in Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Guiana (now Guyana), British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and Turks & Caicos. Other tours to Caribbean countries and territories took place in 1975, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1994, 2002 and 2009.
The Queen is succeeded by King Charles III, who as Prince of Wales recently visited The Tabernacle arts centre where he met members of the carnival and steelpan communities. His wife, Camilla, is officially titled Queen Consort. At 73 years old, Charles is the oldest person in British history to become King.
Charles’s title of Duke of Cornwall now passes to his eldest son, William, Duke of Cambridge. In his first public broadcast as King, Charles gave the title of Prince and Princess of Wales to William and Kate; there will probably be a formal ceremony, known as an investiture, for the Prince of Wales.
What happens next?
After members of the public have paid their respects in Edinburgh, the Queen’s body will be taken to London either by air or by the Royal Train. A funeral procession will travel from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster – effectively the reverse of the route of July’s Platinum Jubilee parade – with the coffin carried on a gun carriage pulled by a contingent of sailors from the Royal Navy. At Westminster, members of the public will be able to pay their respects at a ‘lying in state’ (expect very long queues).
The day of the funeral at Westminster Abbey – Monday 19 September – is officially a National Day of Mourning and has been declared a public holiday though businesses are not required to close. The coffin will take the same route along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, from where a motor hearse will convey the Queen’s body to Windsor, where she will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
More than a million people are expected to flood into London to witness the funeral procession. As a mark of respect, rail unions have called off strikes planned for 15 and 17 September.
The coronation of King Charles III is likely to take place next year.