Long live the Queen. Since the news of her sudden death, there have been a lot of questions over how the Queen died and what caused her death.
Queen Elizabeth II is the first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She became Queen of the United Kingdom as well as the other Commonwealth countries in February 1952 after the death of her father. She was 25 years old at the time. She was married to Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, from November 1947 until Prince Philip’s death in April 2021. The two had four children together: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
After more than 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022. She was 96 years old. In a 1957 Christmas Broadcast, the Queen promised the United Kingdom she would give her “heart” and “devotion” to the Commonwealth. “I cannot lead you into battle,” she said at the time. “I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else: I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”
The Queen’s death came three months after her Platinum Jubilee event in June 2022, which celebrated her 70 years on the throne. At Trooping the Colour, an annual parade for the Queen’s public birthday, the Queen made an appearance in a blue outfit alongside other members of the British royal family. She was also seen at the celebration’s finale, the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, where she joined her son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, her grandson, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, on the Buckingham Palace balcony. The national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” played as the family sang along and red, white and blue fireworks went off.
The Queen will always be remembered. But how did the Queen die? Read on for what we know so far about what caused Queen Elizabeth II’s death and what her final moments were like before she passed.
How did the Queen die? Queen Elizabeth II died “peacefully” at her home at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in the afternoon of September 8, 2022. She was 96. Buckingham Palace confirmed her death in a statement. She will be succeeded by her son, Charles, Prince of Wales, who will now become King Charles III. Charles’ wife, Camila, Duchess of Cornwall, will now become The Queen Consort. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace’s statement read. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.” The Queen’s death came hours after Buckingham Palace announced that she had been placed under “medical supervision” due to “concerns” from her doctors. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” Buckingham Palace said at the time. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.” The statement continued, “Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have traveled to Balmoral.”
After the Queen passed away, Charles—the heir apparent to the British royal throne and the Queen’s eldest son with her late husband, Prince Philip—honored his mother in a statement on the official Royal Family Twitter. “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” the statement read. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and 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. 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 on which The Queen was so widely held.”
The Queen was surrounded by British royal family members at the time of her death. Along with Charles and Camila, the Queen’s second and third sons with Philip—Prince Andrew and Prince Edward—were seen arriving at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland shortly before her death. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was also seen arriving at the airport, as well as the Queen’s eldest grandson, Prince William. The Queen’s second eldest grandson, Prince Harry, wasn’t seen at Balmoral Castle until hours after her death. He traveled from Germany, where he and his wife, Meghan Markle, were promoting the Invictus Games, to Scotland. Meghan, for her part, didn’t join Harry at Balmoral Castle and remained in Germany at the time of the Queen’s death. William’s wife, Kate Middleton, also wasn’t present at Balmoral Castle and stayed in Windsor, England, as September 8 was the first day of school for her and William’s children: Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.
What was the Queen’s cause of death? Queen Elizabeth II’s cause of death was confirmed as “Old Age” on her death certificate. The National Records of Scotland published the Queen’s death certificate on October 29, 2022, which listed her forename as “Elizabeth Alexandra Mary” and her surname as “Windsor.” It also listed her occupation as “Her Majesty The Queen” and confirmed that the time of her death was 3:10 p.m. local time on September 8, 2022. The location of her death was also ocnfirmed as Balmoral Castle, Ballater, AB35 5TB. Her martial status was listed as “Widowed. Under “Cause of Death,” only one reason was given: Old Age.
The Queen’s death came hours after Buckingham Palace announced that she had been placed under “medical supervision” due to “concerns” from her doctors. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” Buckingham Palace said at the time. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.” The statement continued, “Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have traveled to Balmoral.” The statement also came a day after the Queen canceled a scheduled Privy Council meeting so he could rest. “After a full day yesterday, Her Majesty has this afternoon accepted doctors’ advice to rest,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on September 7, 2022. “This means that the Privy Council meeting that had been due to take place this evening will be rearranged.”
Before her death, the Queen had been seen regularly using a cane since October 2021. That month, she canceled a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland under the advice of her doctors and spent a night in the hospital. “The Queen has reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement at the time. “Her Majesty is in good spirits and is disappointed that she will no longer be able to visit Northern Ireland, where she had been due to undertake a series of engagements today and tomorrow.”
After her hospitalization, Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement at the time that the Queen “remains in good spirits” following her overnight stay, where she underwent “preliminary investigations.” “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today and remains in good spirits,” the statement read.
The Queen’s death also came a year after she tested positive for COVID-19 following close contact with Charles, who contracted the virus earlier that month. At the time, celebrity gossip website Hollywood Unlocked, falsely reported that the Queen had died at the age of 95 from COVID-19. The site falsely reported at the time that the Queen was “found dead” after she was set to attend a wedding. “It is with our deepest regret to inform you that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has died,” Hollywood Unlocked’s report read at the time. “Sources close to the Royal Kingdom notified us exclusively that Queen Elizabeth has passed away. She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead.”
While the site didn’t credit any official royal sources, Hollywood Unlocked CEO and founder Jason Lee took to his Twitter at the time to back up the outlet’s report. “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources,” he wrote at the time. “Waiting for an official statement from the palace.” Lee later reiterated his stance on Instagram, writing, “I’ve never lied;” “I’ve never been wrong;” “I trust my sources;” and “I have yet to see an official statement from the palace saying otherwise,” in a numbered list. Despite Lee’s statement, however, the news of the Queen’s death at the time was false.
After the Queen tested positive for COVID-19 in February 2022, a source told Us Weekly at the time the monarch had been recovering “without any fuss” despite Hollywood Unlocked’s report of her death. “Of course, she has a team of doctors to lean on whenever needed and a support staff that’s second to none,” the insider told the magazine. “But thus far Her Majesty has been handling this without any fuss or need to involve too many others in her recovery.” After reports the Queen was still alive, Hollywood Unlocked issued a statement on social media apologizing for the incorrect story and blaming the report on an “intern journalist” who “published the draft post by mistake.” The site added, “Our deepest apologies goes out to the #RoyalFamily and all involved in this embarrassing situation. It was an accident and we’re working hard to make sure that this mistake never happens again.”
For more about the British royal family, check out Sally Bedell Smith’s 2012 biography, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
. The New York Times bestseller, which includes the “real story” behind several storylines featured in Netflix’s The Crown, follows Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her childhood as the “heiress presumptive” to her father, King George VI; to the moment he et her husband, Prince Philip, when she was 13 years old; to her ascension to the throne at 25 years old in 1952. Elizabeth the Queen, which also includes interviews with Buckingham Palace sources and never-before-revealed documents, provides a deep dive into the Queen’s legacy as one of the most famous monarchs in recent history.
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