Stunning news coming out of the U.K. Thursday afternoon: Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96. Her eldest son, Charles, will become king and be known as King Charles III.
On CNN, the network’s royal correspondent Max Foster reported news at 1:31 p.m. ET, with fellow British U.S. news journalists Christiane Amanpour and Bianca Nobilo by his side. The trio was stationed outside of Buckingham Palace, speaking to New York-based Anderson Cooper.
“The queen has died, very sadly,” reported Foster, reading from an email. “She died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and Queen Consort—the reference there to Charles—he automatically becomes King,will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow … The Queen has died and long live the King.”
Amanpour, in particular, looked visibly stunned on camera, eyes widened.
Foster added, “I’m not going to call him King Charles because we don’t know what his name will be, but we know the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon, which is horrific news for the nation—and I can only imagine how people feel watching this. You’ll see the flag over Buckingham Palace that been lowered symbolizing the Queen’s death. I don’t know quite what to say. This is the news we were dreading but, obviously, what happened this afternoon was the queen died and the family were informed—and headed up to Balmoral and are there to pay their respects. There is a very clear process that follows now.
We expect to hear from the King tonight in a televised address—and you’ll start hearing bells tolling across London and the nation and flags will be lowered on public buildings across the United Kingdom. We now have a very clear process of about 10 days until a funeral. I don’t want to get into too much detail about the plans I’ve seen because they need to be signed off by the King to be formalized. We’ll hear more details about that as the evening progresses. Queen Elizabeth has died at the age of 96, which is a horrific moment for the UK and also 14 other nations around the world—and indeed other nations where she wasn’t head of state who revered her as the longest serving, I would say most revered, head of state until she died this afternoon.”
On Fox News, Sandra Smith reported the news at 1:32 p.m. ET, saying, “The Queen has passed away. The Queen died peacefully, the Royal Family says, at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96. John [Roberts], her health in just recent weeks and months, obviously, was called into question. There were some instances at around her birthday back in April she missed due to her health declining—and it has come to this day we now say good-bye to Queen Elizabeth II.”
John Roberts added, “I mean, when you think about her reign, it is remarkable. She became queen upon her father George VI’s death, her coronation was June 3rd the following year, but she has sat on the throne for 70 years now, becoming not only the longest reigning monarch in UK history, but longest reigning monarch in world history as well— and she remained vital right up until the very end.
“It is a sad day in the U.K. and around the world. The passing of Queen Elizabeth, but what an amazing life she lived. What amazing service she delivered to the U.K. and 14 other commonwealth countries around the world—and the fact she was so beloved here in the United States, despite this country’s history with Britain going back to the 1700s, really is a testament to her being a force of nature—and such a person to look up to in so many countries around the world.”
Roberts then threw to a taped obit voiced by Martha MacCallum.
On MSNBC, Chris Jansing reported the news at 1:31 pm. ET, saying, “Let me stop; we have breaking news from Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II has died, just hours after doctors said they were concerned for her health. The 96-year-old queen has been at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The pictures you were looking at members of the British public gathering at Buckingham Palace. Among the people with her at Balmoral, her four children, Andrew, Ann, Edward and Charles, who is now officially King. Automatically ascending to the throne upon the announcement of his mother’s death. The queen’s grandson, Prince William is also there. Prince Harry we are told is on his way. The queen, the longest reigning monarch in British history. She had been on the throne for 70 years, last seen just two days ago in this photo with the new prime minister.”
Jansing then threw to a taped obit voiced by NBC senior international correspondent Keir Simmons.
Over on U.S. broadcast TV, ABC News preempted a taped edition of GMA3 at 1:31 p.m. ET for an ABC News special report anchored by GMA3 anchors Amy Robach and TJ Holmes.
“We’re coming on the air with somber news from Buckingham Palace,” said Robach. “Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96. She was of course the symbol of strength and resolve for generations. She was an influential global presence for decades and Britain’s largest ruling monarch. Her reign spanning 70 years. We saw a tweet from the Royal Family saying the queen died peacefully at Balmoral. The king and queen Consort will remain at Balmoral and will return to England tomorrow.”
Holmes added, “this has been a subject — her health over the past several years. We just saw her celebrate 70 years, the queen’s jubilee, something we’ve never seen before – a monarch serving 70 years. This statement now follows an earlier statement, Robach, that we got from the palace that was very rare and very concerning to a lot of people. They said there was a concern. Her doctors had concern about her health and that she was under medical supervision. People who have watched the palace for years know that was unprecedented a statement for them to put out, and because of that there was a lot concern about her health. She had been on summer break at her castle in Balmoral. Her kids are there. Prince Charles is there, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew. Prince William did get in a short time later, we’re told Prince Harry is on his way …”
Robach then threw to ABC News correspondent Maggie Rulli, who provided additional reporting from a rainy Edinburgh, Scotland.
NBC News broke into regular programming at 1:32 p.m. ET with a special report anchored by Lester Holt: “Good day everyone. We’re coming on the air with some sad breaking news. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at the age of 96. The queen reigned for seven decades, working with many prime ministers during periods of peace and crisis since she took the throne. Her family rushing to be by her side today as her doctors became concerned for her health. Her death comes after the passing of her husband Prince Phillip last year— and her passing sets the stage for Prince Charles to become King—Britain’s first new monarch in 70 years.”
Holt then threw to Keir Simmons, live outside Buckingham Palace.
“Lester, you know that this moment is coming, but nothing really prepares you for it. It’s stunning.”
Simmons added, “There will be days of mourning … The queen has been so much more than just a monarch. She has been for so many people always there, a rock of stability— and for so many—this will feel like the end of a chapter of history, maybe the end of a book of history.”
CBS News broke into regular programming at 1:33 p.m. ET with a special report anchored by Norah O’Donnell: “We have breaking from the United Kingdom. We have just learned the sad news that Queen Elizabeth II died today at Balmoral Castle. That is her summer home in Scotland. Her Majesty is 96 years old, spent a record 70 years on the throne. We want to show you live pre from Buckingham Palace … we just received the news from the royal family. The queen died peacefully this afternoon. The queen consult will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow, thus referring to Prince Charles now as the King of England.
“It was just early this morning here in the U.S. that Buckingham Palace announced that the queen was under medical supervision—and all morning long we have been waiting for word, watching as the queen’s children, grandchildren, other members of the royal family rushed to be with her at her side at the end. We want to show you these shots of the royal family arriving at Aberdeen airport in Scotland—the flag at half-staff, this is the plane that arrived earlier this morning and then we saw Prince William arrive at Balmoral with his uncles, Princes Andrew and Edward. There they are in the car together. “
She added, “This of course a watershed moment not just for the British people but the world. You know, in England, many people have not really known any other monarch because she reigned for so long, reigned over a rapidly changing country in the last days of a once vast empire—and through it all, many people say that the queen ruled with a steady hand and quiet devotion to the British people and talking about her service to the nation. Her oldest son prince Charles succeeds her now as Britain’s new king.”
O’Donnell then threw to a taped obit voiced by CBS’ Mark Phillips.