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. On Thursday, the king said in a statement that his mother’s death “is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”
“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country … and by countless people around the world,” he said.
Britons gathered to lay flowers outside Buckingham Palace in London and tributes poured in from across the globe.