LONDON (WCIA) — Buckingham Palace has announced that Queen Elizabeth II has died. She was 96 years old.

At the time of her death, Elizabeth was the longest-living and longest-reigning monarch in British history. The 70 years she spent on the throne are also among the longest reigns of any world monarch, with only France’s Louis XIV ruling for longer.

She was not, however, born with the expectation that she would become queen.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York – later King George VI – and his wife Elizabeth. But her father was not the eldest-born son of King George V. Her uncle Edward was, and he was the one expected to rule upon the death of Elizabeth’s grandfather.

But Edward famously abdicated in 1936, paving the way for Elizabeth’s father, and later her, to take the throne. George VI died in 1952, starting an unprecedented reign for his daughter at the age of 25.

She met 13 sitting U.S. presidents and experienced both fairy tale stories and both personal and political hardships. Those hardships included wars and the personal struggles of her four children – Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland surrounded by her loved ones. She was preceded in death by her younger sister Margaret in 2002 and her husband Philip in 2021.

As Elizabeth’s eldest child, Charles now ascends the throne as King Charles III. He released the following statement after his mother’s passing:

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.

King Charles III