The longest reigning monarch in British history has passed away.
Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96 years old.
The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening, then return to London on Friday. The new monarch will be known as King Charles III.
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty the Queen, is a moment of great sadness for me and all members of my family,” reads a statement from the King. “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 but 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.”
The Queen’s doctors placed her under medical supervision Thursday morning out of concern for her health. She passed away that afternoon.
“It’s something you know is going to happen eventually, but you never expect it to happen right then,” said James Hawkes, the past chair of the Monarchist League of Canada’s North Saskatchewan chapter. “It’s like a death in the family.”
Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952. In 2007, she surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest-lived British Monarch, and became the longest-reigning monarch in September 2015.
Hawkes said the Queen will be remembered for taking an interest in countries like Canada, and for her tireless service to the Commonwealth.
“She’s the most well-travelled monarch in British history—probably of any monarch in any nation, actually,” he said. “I think she’ll be remembered for having a more direct role overseas than any previous monarch.”
Hawkes never had a chance to meet the Queen, but was part of a group that met the new King during a trip to Ottawa for a Platinum Jubilee Celebration last spring. Hawkes said he’s confident King Charles will excel in his new role.
“He’s very good at making you feel like you’ve been noticed and he knows you, even though he obviously hasn’t had the opportunity to speak with you too much,” Hawkes said.
“He’s been preparing for this role his whole life, so we know he knows what to do, and fully trust he will live up to his new role.”
Hawkes said there are events planned for later today in Prince Albert to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s life, however a time and location has not yet been finalized.
Saskatchewan’s Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty said the Queen “exemplified integrity, humility, inner strength and outward grace” during her reign. He credited the Queen for encouraging unity in Canada, and for commenting often on the service of its citizens.
“Her Majesty was very fond of Canada and Canadians and thought of our country as her home away from home.,” reads Mirasty’s statement. “She was committed to Reconciliation and acknowledged the painful history that Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada, as well as the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society.
“While we mourn her loss, we can also give thanks for her extraordinary contributions to Canada and the world.”
Flags at the provincial legislature are already at half-mast in remembrance of the victims of the recent attacks at Weldon and James Smith Cree Nation. Premier Scott Moe said they will remain at half-mast until the ascension of King Charles is proclaimed where they will be raised and lowered again until the day after the Queen’s funeral.
A book of condolences will be available for public signing during regular business hours at the Legislative Building and Government House in Regina.
“Like many of you, I was deeply saddened today to learn of the death of our Queen – the only monarch most of us have ever known,” reads a statement from the Premier.
“Her reign of over 70 years spanned an incredible period of history. She was Queen during the term of 12 Canadian Prime Ministers and 9 Saskatchewan Premiers. But even more enduring was the dedication, dignity and grace with which she served as Queen of Canada and the Commonwealth.”
The Queen visited Saskatchewan on six occasions, the first when she was still Princess Elizabeth in 1951. She also visited in 1959, 1973, 1978, 1987, and 2005.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke briefly to reporters in Vancouver about the Queen’s death. Trudeau said Canadians will always cherish the compassion and warmth she showed Canadians.
“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Trudeau said. “She was a constant presence in our lives—and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”