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Source: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Born in 1926, the Queen’s storied life included serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, repairing and driving vehicles to aid the war effort while tending to her fellow citizens as the Nazis laid siege to her country.
Ascending to the throne in February 1952, the Queen appointed 15 UK prime ministers during her reign beginning with Winston Churchill, and was one of the world’s most well-traveled heads of state in her visits to other nations to meet with their leaders.
The Queen met with 13 U.S. presidents stretching back to Dwight Eisenhower — including Ronald Reagan with whom she shared a love of horses — every German chancellor since the end of World War II and leaders from every continent.
As the Queen for 70 years, she was a driving force behind the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. In one notable example, on September 12, 2001, the Queen requested that the Star Spangled Banner be played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in a show of solidarity with the U.S. after terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 innocent people on American soil.
After the Queen’s passing on Thursday, the U.S. Capitol lowered its flags to half-staff to honor her life and legacy.
BBC, which had suspended its regular programming on Thursday to cover the Queen’s ailing health, shared the news with viewers in the U.K., commonwealth countries, and the rest of the world.
Doctors attending to Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement earlier on Thursday — in apparent preparation for the Queen’s passing — saying they were “concerned” for Queen Elizabeth II’s health and that she was comfortable under their supervision as her children and other members of the royal family rushed to Balmoral.
The Queen’s family will remain at Balmoral on Thursday evening before returning to London this weekend. Her oldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales, will lead the United Kingdom in mourning as the new King and head of state.
In his first statement as King Charles, the Queen’s son released a statement on Thursday afternoon:
The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.
Tributes from around the world began pouring in as soon as the news of the Queen’s passing broke.