Queen Elizabeth II passed away today (September 8 in the UK, and 3:30am at AEST on September 9) at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with her family by her side. She was 96-years-old, and took to the throne over 70 years ago.
News broke earlier today that the monarch was under medical supervision at the castle near Aberdeen and her family members, including Prince Charles – who is next in line to the throne, and now King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, including Australia – and her other three children, had travelled to be with her.
A statement read: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.” This came after the Queen pulled out of a meeting with her Privy Council on Wednesday (September 7) at the advice of her doctor.
The Queen took to the throne, succeeding her father King George IV, on February 6, 1952. She was the longest reigning monarch, has lived through WWII, reigned during the terms of 15 Prime Ministers, and was on the throne during the Covid-19 pandemic, which begun in March 2020. Queen Elizabeth II came down with the virus in February this year, but recovered and resumed some royal duties, although at a reduced rate than before.
Earlier this year, she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years on the throne.
Prince William and Prince Harry have also travelled up to Balmoral Castle. Balmoral Castle has been a royal residence for over 150 years, having first been used as a holiday home by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. A crowd of ‘well-wishers’ gathered outside the cordoned-off sections of the grounds after the news broke to show support for the monarch.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has released a statement. “The Government and the people of Australia offer our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are grieving for a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother—the person whom for so long was their greatest inner strength,” he said. “Australian hearts go out to the people of the United Kingdom who mourn today, knowing they will feel they have lost part of what makes their nation whole.”
The Australian flag is now flying at half mast at Parliament House, and will remain that day until further notice. It is customary to fly the national flag at half mast, from the announcement of the Sovereign’s death, until the day after the funeral. The exception will be on the day the accession of the new Sovereign, King Charles III, is proclaimed. The Queen’s funeral is expected to be held in ten days time, at Westminster Abbey.
Federal parliament will be suspended for at least 15 days.
Governor-General David Hurley will address the nation at 7pm AEST. “I will have more to say concerning the passing of Her Majesty in a National Address this evening,” he said. “For now, I want to pass on our condolences to the members of the Royal Family. I join all Australians in mourning and reflecting on Her Majesty’s lifetime of tireless service.”
During her reign, the Queen visited Australia 16 times, the first in 1954, in which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh toured the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Her last visit to Australia was in 2011.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has also released a statement. “Queen Elizabeth II visited Victoria 11 times – and during those trips, she left her mark on the state we know today,” he said. “She talked with patients and families at the Royal Children’s – and opened our Commonwealth Games. She rode a tram around the Hoddle grid, watched Richmond win at the MCG, and caught a show at the Princess Theatre.”
“She travelled across the state – visiting Tatura, Echuca, Rochester, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Ballarat and Geelong – touching so much of what makes Victoria special. Her historic reign and long life has come to an end, but Victorians’ deep affection and respect for Her Majesty lives on,” he added.
Condolence books are set up at Parliament House and Government House in Canberra. Similar condolence books will also be available at state government houses around Australia. You can also send condolences online at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. You can also download a condolence book, and mail your message to the Department.
These condolences will be collated and sent to Buckingham Palace. The messages will also be archived, and may be displayed at national institutions, such as the National Library of Australia, as a record of this historic moment.
Victorians are invited to sign a condolence book outside Government House in Melbourne. These books will be available to sign from 8am to 6pm. There will also be a temporary memorial at the gates of Government House, off St Kilda Road, where you can lay flowers, tributes and other mementos.
In South Australia, Premier Peter Malinauskas announced the opening of a tribute site in the grounds of Government House. Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced an online portal where the state’s residents can mark their thoughts. Government House will also play host to a condolence book, while another will be open to the public in the city of Playford in Adelaide’s north. In Sydney, a public condolence book will be open at St Andrews Cathedral. Visitors are welcome to leave flowers at the George St door.
At dusk tonight (September 9), there will be a gun salute at Parliament House. There will be 96 rounds, representing each year of the Queen’s life, fired at ten second intervals.
Queen Elizabeth II, April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022.
Words by Jack Saddler, Nicole de Souza and Ria Lawrence.