LONDON    -    Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s lon­gest-serving monarch, died at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years. Her family gath­ered at her Scottish estate after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday.

The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enor­mous social change.

Her eldest son, Charles, be­comes King Charles III, and the head of state for 14 Com­monwealth realms. He said the death of his beloved mother was “a moment of great sadness”.

In a statement, His Majesty the King said: “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.”

He said during the period of mourning and change he and his family would be “comfort­ed and sustained by our knowl­edge of the respect and deep af­fection in which The Queen was so widely held”. In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Bal­moral this afternoon.

“The King and the Queen Con­sort will remain at Balmoraevening and will return to London tomor­row.” All the Queen’s children travelled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision. Her grandson, Prince William, is also there, with his brother, Prince Harry, on his way. Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appoint­ed by the Queen on Tuesday, said the mon­arch was the rock on which modern Britain was built and she had “provided us with the stability and strength that we needed”.

Speaking about the new King, she said: “We offer him our loyalty and devotion, just as his mother devoted so much, to so many, for so long. “And with the passing of the second Eliz­abethan age, we usher in a new era in the mag­nificent history of our great country, exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words ‘God save the King’.” All her children -- heir to the throne Prince Charles, 73, Princess Anne, 72, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Ed­ward, 58, were either at or heading to join her at the Balmoral royal estate in Scotland, aides said.

Also heading to Balmoral was Charles’s el­der son Prince William along with his young­er son Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who have been on a rare visit to Britain after abandoning royal life to move to the United States. The queen -- an instantly recognisable figure to billions of people across the world -- is in her Platinum Jubilee year, marking 70 years since she succeeded her father king George VI in 1952.l this