Senior royals dashed to be at the Queen’s bedside yesterday, but did not reach Balmoral in time before she passed, it is believed.
Only her eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were already in Scotland at the time of the Monarch’s sudden turn for the worse, were able to make it to the royal estate before her death, sources said last night.
Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, his wife Sophie, and Prince William all flew in from Berkshire via private jet to Aberdeen yesterday as they dashed to Balmoral to see her. But it is understood that they did not reach the estate before she passed.
Prince Harry, who was due to attend a charity event with wife Meghan in London last night, also attempted to reach Balmoral in time. But he arrived at 8pm, nearly an hour-and-a-half after the public were informed of the Queen’s death.
It comes as Britain is today mourning the death of its beloved Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. After a remarkable 70 years on the throne, the country’s longest-reigning royal yesterday died ‘peacefully’, aged 96, at Balmoral in Scotland.
Her death sparked an immediate and huge outpouring of emotion, with thousands of heartbroken mourners gathering outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and other royal buildings yesterday evening.
At one point, a rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’ rang out among the mourners, followed by cheers of ‘Long Live The King’.
Others laid flowers outside Windsor Castle – where The Queen had spent much of her time following the death of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, in April last year.
And in a sign of the Queen’s considerable worldwide influence and appeal, royal fans laid flowers outside British embassies including in Washington, Berlin and Oslo.
Even the royal household’s staff were in tears yesterday, coming to terms with the loss of their much-loved boss, as well as the head of state.
One said: ‘However much you try to prepare yourself for this moment, it just hits you like a ton of bricks. She is irreplaceable. I just can’t believe we won’t see that impish smile again. There is a deep sense of shock.’
The Queen poses for a photograph in the drawing room at Balmoral shortly before her meeting with Ms Truss, whom she appointed as her Prime Minister
Andrew, Edward, his wife Sophie, and William all flew in from Berkshire via private jet to Aberdeen yesterday as they dashed to Balmoral to see her. But it is understood that they did not make it in time
Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were already in Scotland at the time of the Monarch’s sudden turn for the worse, were able to make it in time to see her before her passing, sources say
Prince Harry (pictured), who was due to attend a charity event with wife Meghan in London last night, also attempted to reach Balmoral in time. But he arrived at 8pm, nearly an hour-and-a-half after the public were informed of the Queen’s death
The Queen’s son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King Charles III, while Prince William has inherited his father’s title and is now, along with his wife, styled The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge. William is also now the ‘heir apparent’ to the British throne.
Prince Harry was in mid air when Buckingham Palace announced the death of The Queen
By Sam Greenhill for the Daily Mail
Prince Harry was in mid air when Buckingham Palace announced the death of his beloved grandmother.
He flew by private jet from London, arriving at Balmoral an hour and a half after the historic statement.
Courtiers issued the declaration at 6.30pm – just over an hour after Prince William and other senior royals had arrived to join Prince Charles at the Queen’s residence.
But when the world was being told the saddest of news, Harry’s Cessna was still in the air, making its approach to Aberdeen Airport.
The Duke of Sussex’s flight had been due to land at 6.29pm, a minute before the statement. But it was 20 minutes late taking off from London’s Luton Airport – with flight data showing it departed at 5.35pm. It took one hour and 11 minutes to reach Aberdeen.
By the time he landed, at 6.46pm, it was 16 minutes after the palace had made the announcement.
Harry then faced a lonely drive to the castle, finally arriving at 7.52pm where he joined other members of the Royal Family in mourning the Queen’s death.
He looked ashen-faced on the back seat of the Range Rover as it swept into the Balmoral estate. As well as losing a beloved grandmother, he may have been reflecting on his future without her as monarch. She remained fond of him, in spite of recent challenges, and he was said to have retained an ability to make her laugh.
By the time he arrived, his and Meghan’s Archewell website homepage had been replaced with a respectful blacked-out page with the words: ‘In loving memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022.’
Earlier in the day there had been confusion over whether Meghan was also on her way to Scotland.
In the morning, it appeared they were both intending to visit Her Majesty’s residence – until changing the plan so that Harry went alone.
As senior royals dashed to the bedside, a spokesman for the Sussexes was widely reported to have announced that Meghan and Harry were on their way.
The possibility raised eyebrows behind palace doors, given the recent strained relations between the Sussexes and senior royals.
Meghan’s well-publicised accusations about racism in the Royal Family and alleging it did not support her in palace life overshadowed the Queen’s final days.
In contrast to the Sussexes, there was never any suggestion that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge would go together.
While William hastened north, Kate remained in London, where she was seen taking their children to their first full day at their new school.
Senior royals including William are said to have been avoiding his brother and wife amid concerns any encounters could provide material for the Duke of Sussex’s forthcoming book.
Although they live in California, the Sussexes have been in Europe this week on a mini ‘royal’-style tour, including an event in Germany for the duke’s forthcoming Invictus Games.
Last night they had been due to attend the WellChild Awards in London, which honours the brave deeds of seriously ill children.
They were not scheduled to see the Queen at all during their trip to the UK, but decided to go to Balmoral on hearing about Her Majesty’s health, it was reported yesterday morning.
However by the afternoon, the plan suddenly experienced a dramatic U-turn, with Meghan apparently no longer coming. A spokesman for the couple was widely reported as saying Meghan would now remain in London, although would not attend the WellChild awards. It was said the duchess could potentially join Harry in Scotland at a later date.
Harry and Meghan’s children Archie and Lilibet – named after the Queen – have stayed behind in the United States, and the couple were expected to return to them by the end of the week.
Earlier this week, one of the Sussexes’ favoured journalists claimed that Meghan and Harry still had not spoken to William and Kate, despite enjoying a day off from their tour, at Frogmore Cottage just 700 yards away from the latter pair’s Adelaide Cottage.
It was claimed this week that William had resolved not to speak to Harry until after his memoirs are released, fearing their conversation would appear on its pages.
The brothers now face seeing a lot of each other as they prepare for the Queen’s funeral.
All Her Majesty’s children, as well as grandson Prince William, had rushed to Balmoral on Thursday after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Buckingham Palace released a statement at 12.32pm saying the Queen’s doctors were ‘concerned’ for her health and recommended she remain under medical supervision while family members were informed.
Charles was already at his mother’s side at her beloved Highland home after senior aides, fearing the worst, sent the Queen’s burgundy-liveried helicopter up from Windsor at 6.48am to collect him from Dumfries House in Ayrshire, where he had stayed the night after conducting several official engagements. He made it to Balmoral by 10.27am.
His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall – now Queen Consort, as Elizabeth II requested earlier this year – was already at Birkhall, the couple’s Scottish retreat, and was driven over by car to join him.
It is understood that the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was already with her mother as she had been undertaking engagements in the area.
Staff hurriedly arranged for a jet to collect the Queen’s other children – Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York – as well as the Countess of Wessex, whom the Queen adores and treats like a second daughter – and bring them up to Aberdeen.
Her grandson, Prince William joined them. His wife Kate remained with their three children, who have recently started a new school.
The sombre family group arrived in Scotland at 4pm, sweeping through the gates at Balmoral in a Range Rover driven by William at 5.06pm. Although Buckingham Palace has not confirmed the time of death, it is thought that they were unable to see their much-loved matriarch before she died.
By coincidence the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – now sadly estranged from most family members – were in Britain from their home in California and due to undertake a charity engagement in London before flying back home to their children.
There was confusion when their spokesman initially said that both Harry and Meghan would fly up to Balmoral to join the family, which caused surprise as spouses would normally be unlikely to join close relatives at a time of personal grief.
But it was later confirmed that Harry would travel alone and he finally arrived at his grandmother’s home at 7.52pm. He was still in the air when the death was confirmed.
The Queen’s death was finally announced at 6.32pm in a short black-edged statement from Buckingham Palace which read simply: ‘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.’
Today Operation London Bridge will swing into action, the period of ten days between the Queen’s death and her state funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday September 19, as the country is plunged into a period of official mourning.
The Queen’s coffin is expected to remain at Balmoral for at least the next two days before being flown back down to London next week.
But the pendulum to introduce His Majesty to his people will also begin to swing, with Charles and Camilla returning to London as King and Queen Consort today. He is expected to hold his Accession Council tomorrow.
Last night Miss Truss hosted a meeting of ministers, police and royal officials to discuss arrangements for the period of mourning leading up to the Queen’s funeral.
The Union flag on Buckingham Palace was poignantly lowered to half-mast yesterday, while a framed plaque of the statement announcing the Queen’s death was placed on the front gates by royal household staff.
The Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast, even after the Queen’s death, as there is always a monarch on the throne. Flags will fly at half-mast on UK Government buildings in tribute to the Queen from now until the morning after her funeral.
The Queen’s death will see Britain and her Commonwealth realms enter into a ten-day period of mourning as millions of her subjects in the UK and abroad come to terms with her passing.
A number of big events have already been cancelled, including the BBC’s Proms and its famous crescendo, Last Night of the Proms, which were due to take place on Friday and Saturday.
Charles, who will reign as King Charles III, said yesterday: ‘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 yesterday poured in for Her Majesty, to many the greatest Briton in history and undoubtedly the most famous woman on earth. To billions around the world she was the very face of Britishness.
Liz Truss hailed the Queen, saying in a statement: ‘Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is because of her.’
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said the Queen was ‘more than a monarch’ and that she ‘defined an era’.
A White House statement said: ‘In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. She, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service’.
And in a surprising release from the Kremlin, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last night paid tribute, saying the Queen commanded ‘love, respect’ and ‘authority on world stage’. The Queen met Putin on several occasions during her reign, the last in 2003.
To her subjects at home, Her Majesty was the nation’s anchor, holding firm no matter what storm she or her country was facing – from the uncertain aftermath of the Second World War to, more recently, the pandemic.
She was also steadfast as she dealt with tragedies and scandals in her own family, most recently the fallout from Megxit and the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip.
Charles will embark on a tour of the UK before his mother’s funeral with his wife Camilla, who the Queen announced would be crowned her eldest son’s Queen Consort in an historic statement to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne on February 6.
The country’s longest reigning Monarch died ‘peacefully’ yesterday, aged 96, at the Balmoral Estate, surrounded by her family. Her death sparked an immediate and huge outpouring of emotion, with thousands of mourners gathering outside the gates of Buckingham Palace this evening (pictured)
People react as they gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London after it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II has died
People react outside the Buckingham Palace, after Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, died aged 96
People hug on the Queen Victoria Memorial opposite Buckingham Palace after Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, died aged 96
Mourners carry Union Flags as they sit on the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the death of the Queen
Taxies lined up on The Mall in central London, following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II
A woman becomes emotional speaking outside Buckingham Palace after Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, died aged 96, in London
Police officers guard a notice announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth II, pictured on the railings outside of Buckingham Palace after the announcement of her death
Tributes were paid, not just in the UK, but abroad as well. Pictured: People light candles and lay flowers outside the British embassy in Oslo, Norway
People pay their respects in front the British embassy in Berlin, Germany following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II
Tributes have taken place across the world, including in Washington, in the US, where flowers have been laid over a Union Flag outside the British Embassy
Pictured left: US President Joe Biden (L) signs the condolence book as he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden (R) visit the British Embassy in Washington. Pictured right: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses a press conference after the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II
A rainbow appears above the Queen Victoria Memorial as people gather in front of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, shortly before the Queen’s death was announced
The Union flag flies half mast as people gather at Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the death of The Queen, at the age of 96