Queen Elizabeth II died at her Scottish castle of Balmoral on Thursday after her health appeared to have deteriorated so rapidly that two of her sons and grandson William appeared unable to reach her bed in time.
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It is 12:32 p.m. London (11:32 GMT) when Buckingham Palace’s first press release, brief but alarming, informs the world of the Queen’s doctors’ concerns, “concerned” about his state of health.
Privately, however, the Queen’s closest confidants had been expecting the worst for several hours, the British press reported on Friday. The sovereign had to cancel a meeting via videoconference the night before, and by 9am “doctors knew she had just hours to live,” the Sun assures, when the Daily Mail conjures up “a turning point” for the worse early on Thursday morning.
His closest friends are urgently organizing to go to the Scottish Highlands. First heir Charles and his wife Camilla, who left Dumfries House in southern Scotland late this morning aboard the royal helicopter, according to the press. In Balmoral, they reunite with Charles’ sister Anne.
We don’t know the exact time of the Queen’s death, which Buckingham said took place in “afternoon”. Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was formally appointed by the sovereign in Balmoral on Tuesday, will be briefed around 4:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. GMT), two hours before the official announcement, according to her services.
Therefore, if it is likely that Charles and Anne were able to witness the sovereign’s final moments, that is likely not the case for their other two sons, Andrew and Edward, and Prince William. Arriving in Scotland on a Royal Air Force jet, they passed through the castle gates with their faces closed only after 17:00 (16:00 GMT).
Prince Harry, who is at odds with the royal family, later arrives alone as the news has already circulated around the world. He also departs separately on a scheduled British Airways flight on Friday morning.
Almost six hours separated the palace’s first press release from the official announcement of Elizabeth II’s death, the causes of which are unknown.
The 96-year-old sovereign’s health has been steadily deteriorating for months, particularly since the death of her husband Philip in April 2021. She had spent a night in hospital for examinations last October, nothing of which was ever disclosed. The palace has since spoken of “mobility issues”.
In the latest photos of Elizabeth II at Balmoral, taken on Tuesday, the bluish appearance of her right hand had raised questions. She appeared there smiling, erect but more frail than ever.