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Queen Elizabeth II dies

Buckingham Palace announces her death at age 96
Isabel II

AFP/FRANK AUGSTEIN  -   Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the Platinum Parade in London as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96 at her summer residence Balmoral, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

Her family travelled to the Scottish estate, near Aberdeen, hours before her death when it emerged that she was in poor health. She was under medical supervision. Elizabeth II died "peacefully" surrounded by members of her family, according to a statement issued by the British Royal Family.

Last February she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, the commemoration after 70 years on the throne. The Queen succeeded her father George VI in 1952 and witnessed a profound change in British society. That same year she appointed Sir Winston Churchill as Prime Minister.

Seven decades later, Elizabeth II on Tuesday appointed Liz Truss as head of government, the 15th premier to take office under her reign.

Crown Prince Charles, a former Prince of Wales and perennial contender, is now the new king, and will remain at Balmoral Castle with his wife Camilla until returning to London tomorrow.

Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Elizabeth II, has lowered its flag to half-mast. Thousands of people are gathered there, where a death notice is expected to be posted shortly as part of a detailed protocol to see her off with full honours. 

The death of the sovereign, who on Tuesday welcomed the new British prime minister, Liz Truss, also in Scotland, means that the first events will be held there, in accordance with the so-called Operation Unicorn, after which her remains will be taken to London for the state funeral.