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Elizabeth II in 2022State portrait by Ranald Mackechnie

BALMORAL CASTLE, Scotland (LifeSiteNews) — Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and many other countries including Canada, died today at her summer home in Scotland after a short illness.  

She was 96. 

The Queen was the longest-serving monarch in British history, her reign spanning 70 years.  

Born to Albert, the Duke of York, and the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was not expected to become Queen. She was third in line to the throne behind her Uncle David, Prince of Wales and future Edward VIII, and her father, David’s younger brother. However, a new path was set before her in December 1936 when her uncle, who had succeeded his father George V but not yet been crowned, abdicated. Princess Elizabeth’s father took the name George VI and reigned until his death from coronary thrombosis in February 1952. Elizabeth thus became Queen at the age of 25.  

Coronation portrait of Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton

Elizabeth had married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in Westminster Abbey in November 1947, and the couple had four children: Charles (1948), Anne (1950), Andrew (1960), and Edward (1964). Prince Philip died in April 2021, after 73 years of marriage. At the time of her own death, the Queen had eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.   

During the Second World War, when the Royal Family refused to leave Britain for the safety of Canada, the 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth gave an address over BBC Radio to raise public morale. In 1945, when she was 19, the Princess insisted upon joining the women’s auxiliary territorial services (ATS) of the British Army, where she served as a truck driver and mechanic.    

Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS of the British Army in 1945

Perhaps most notably in her 70 year-long reign, in 1967 she gave her royal assent to what became the Abortion Act. As the name suggests, this is the Act which made abortion legal in a wide set of situations up to 28 weeks gestation.

The first British prime minister of her reign was Winston Churchill, the last—and 15th—was Liz Truss, whom Elizabeth formally met earlier this week at Balmoral Castle. (Her first Canadian prime minister was Louis St. Laurent; Justin Trudeau was her 12th.) 

She has been succeeded as monarch by her eldest son, Charles, also known as the Prince of Wales and, in Scotland, as the Duke of Rothesay. 

LifeSiteNews invites readers to pray for her soul and for her family.

Editor’s note: This article was last updated on Friday September 9, 7am EST.