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Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96, Charles ascends to throne

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8 after 70 years on the throne. Here's a look back at her life and legacy as the longest-serving British monarch. (Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

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LONDON — Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has died in Scotland. Her son Charles is now King Charles III.

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. Charles will set the tone for what he will be like as monarch. But on Thursday, the primary focus was on the queen and her legacy, as Britons lay flowers outside Buckingham Palace in London and tributes poured in from around the globe.

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.” The BBC anchors wore black as they announced the somber news.
  • Charles, 73, immediately became king upon his mother’s death, and chose to be called Charles III. His formal coronation will come at a later date.
  • The Washington Post’s obituary for the queen calls her “the seemingly eternal monarch who became a bright but inscrutable beacon of continuity in the United Kingdom during more than seven decades of rule.”
  • Queen Elizabeth II had planned for her succession for some time. The Post answered your questions about this old and storied process — and about who is in line for the British throne now.