Live updates: King Charles addresses the nation as Britain goes into mourning

Published September 9, 2022 at 2:39 AM EDT
King Charles sits behind a desk with flowers and a picture of the late queen on it as he makes his televised speech.
Glyn Kirk
AFP via Getty Images
King Charles III makes a televised address from the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in London on Friday.

Two 96-round gun salutes honoring the queen — one round for each year of her life — fired in London today as the nation began a complex, multiday farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.

Here's what we're following:

Operation "London Bridge": The British government has an intricate protocol to mark Elizabeth's death.

The monarchy's uncertain future: Britain can expect to struggle without Queen Elizabeth at the helm, according to one expert.

The last time a British monarch died: See a young Queen Elizabeth at her father's funeral in 1952

3 takeaways from King Charles' speech

Posted September 9, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT

LONDON — King Charles III gave his first public speech, in an emotion-laden prerecorded broadcast that began at the same time as a service Friday evening to commemorate his late mother began at St. Paul's Cathedral.

It came just a day after Queen Elizabeth's death at her Balmoral estate in Scotland, and after Britain's new head of state had traveled south from there to London, arriving at Buckingham Palace alongside his wife Camilla, now the queen consort, and before waiting crowds of thousands.

He spoke from the same room Elizabeth had often used for her televised Christmas broadcasts, but his tone was mostly somber and serious as he paid tribute not only to her as a monarch, but as a mother.

Below are three of the major takeaways:

1. As king, he has to hand off charity work

For decades, Charles has focused much of his attention and intellect on programs and passions that have been of interest to him: underprivileged young people, climate, agriculture and even community development are subjects close to his heart and have inspired his efforts. But he acknowledged in his address that the charities and organizations he has supported or spearheaded must now be led by others, as he takes on the additional constitutional roles and responsibilities of kingship. "This important work will go on in the trusted hands of others," he said.

2. He promises continuity

The new king insisted that a primary part of his mission as monarch would be to provide a form of consistency in matters both temporal and spiritual, in the way he said his mother had done, despite huge social, political and cultural changes across Britain over the last seven decades. He said though the institutions of state had changed, and despite various challenges, he said the United Kingdom's values have remained constant and should continue to do so. As the new head of the Church of England, he said that his own faith had helped him to develop a sense of duty to others, and to respect Britain's system of parliamentary government.

3. The new queen consort has showed "loyal public service"

He focused on the important role two women had played already in his life, his mother and his wife, but also how the latter, Camilla, would continue to support him during this moment and the years to come. He said that her new position of queen consort was a recognition of her own "loyal public service." He appeared keen to play up her own ability to meet what he called the "demands" of this new role but also — in the most emotional words of his entire delivery — he thanked the woman he called his "darling Mama" for her love and devotion.

North America

Canada mourns Elizabeth, who was its head of state too

Posted September 9, 2022 at 4:40 PM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II, followed by then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attends a garden party at Government House on June 30, 2010, in Ottawa, Canada.
Chris Jackson
Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II, followed by then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attends a garden party at Government House on June 30, 2010, in Ottawa, Canada.

“Canada is in mourning,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an emotional tribute following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The United Kingdom isn’t the only country that just lost its long-reigning queen — Canada is one of more than a dozen members of the British Commonwealth that recognize the monarch as their head of state. And as of her death on Thursday, there is a new King of Canada and head of state: Charles III.

In Trudeau’s words, Elizabeth had an “abiding love for Canadians.” She carried out 22 official visits, including a marathon 45-day tour of all the Canadian provinces and territories in 1959. On her last visit to the country in 2010, she noted in a speech, in both English and French, that it was “very good to be home.”

The country is marking Elizabeth’s death as an official period of mourning. Canada has lowered flags on buildings across the country. Canadian politicians as well as the monarch’s own representatives here have made statements. A commemorative service will be held in the capital, Ottawa.

Yet the public reaction to her death is nuanced, partly because it comes at a time when Canadian society is reappraising its colonial history. The Canada of 1952, when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, has changed dramatically, especially in population centers where decades of immigration have changed demographics.

Many Canadians today have ties with countries that have no link with the monarchy or are former colonies with differing views of their onetime rulers. An Angus Reid survey in April found 51% of respondents were against continuing with a constitutional monarchy, while close to two-thirds (63%) viewed Elizabeth favorably.

“The queen was a global figure,” says Andrew McDougall, assistant professor of Canadian politics and public law at the University of Toronto. “To that extent this is an event that people will connect to on a cultural basis. The institutional side is more complicated.”

The monarchy is embedded within the Canadian Constitution, and while there is periodic discussion about whether it remains useful in modern Canada, there is not a significant movement in favor of becoming a republic.

“A lot of people would not be opposed to getting rid of the monarchy,” McDougall says, “but it would require the consent of the federal government and all the provinces. It would also likely need the input of Indigenous peoples who often see their relationship as being with the Crown rather than the government of Canada.”

There is also the challenge of what would replace the monarchy. During Elizabeth’s reign, Canadians generally viewed the debate around whether to become a republic as a distraction from pressing problems like inflation and the burdened public health system.

The immediate reaction following Elizabeth’s death suggests this will not change overnight. But according to the Angus Reid poll, there could be difficulties for the monarchy in Canada — with just one-third supportive of recognizing King Charles as head of state.


Remembering Elizabeth in the Kenyan town where she discovered she was queen

Posted September 9, 2022 at 4:05 PM EDT
Amos Ndegwa, a naturalist and tour guide, lights a candle to pay tribute in the lounge of the Treetops Hotel in Kenya, where Britain's Queen Elizabeth II spent her last night as a princess. The hotel, in Kenya's Aberdare National Park, closed because of declining tourism during the coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Mwihia
Amos Ndegwa, a naturalist and tour guide, lights a candle to pay tribute in the lounge of the Treetops Hotel in Kenya, where Britain's Queen Elizabeth II spent her last night as a princess. The hotel, in Kenya's Aberdare National Park, closed because of declining tourism during the coronavirus pandemic.

To some, Nyeri is an unassuming farm town in central Kenya. But to others, it has a special connection to the longest-serving British monarch.

Just a half-hour’s drive from the town is the Treetops Lodge. It is where a then 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth found out she had become queen.

Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were at the lodge in February 1952, when King George VI died. Thus began the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Kenya was once a British colony that gained independence in 1963 — during Elizabeth’s reign.

In a solemn, quiet kind of way, that reign came to an end Thursday with the queen’s death at age 96. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a period of mourning around the nation in her honor.

NPR spoke to people in Kenya about their connection with the queen.

“She’s kind of an inspiration to me at this young age,” says William Thuo, a web developer in Nyeri. He says Elizabeth proved she could overcome major challenges.

A few miles down the road from Nyeri lies the village of Kamuyu, dotted with trees and dirt paths.

“My father was working at Treetops when the queen visited,” says Jane Mureithi, 43, while glancing at a photo of her father who passed away in 2021. “He thought she was a great person.”


Fiction imagined the truth of Queen Elizabeth II and her subjects

Posted September 9, 2022 at 3:57 PM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II cuts the ribbon during the 2017 opening ceremony for the Queensferry Crossing.
AFP Contributor/AFP via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II cuts the ribbon during the 2017 opening ceremony for the Queensferry Crossing.

Plenty of biographies purport to tell the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II — but she was renowned for her reserve, and they may not have reflected her deepest feelings. What books to turn to, then, for an unguarded portrayal of the late queen? Fiction, usually comedy, has imagined the truth of Elizabeth and, by extension, of Great Britain.

What if the queen had to live in a council flat?

In The Queen and I, author Sue Townsend dumped the royal family out of their lives of economic security and gave them a taste of lower-quality housing, sitting in a National Health Service waiting room and no corgis.

She could have hidden out in the Caribbean

What if Elizabeth had dropped out of royal life of her own accord? Emma Tennant imagined her disappearing from Balmoral in The Autobiography of the Queen and reemerging solo in St. Lucia as Gloria Smith. Here again, she encounters the conditions that average people face.

Her transformation could have happened in her own home

As other authors pulled the queen out of royal life to imagine her inner truth, Alan Bennett kept her in the palace, but with the life-changing discovery of reading. In The Uncommon Reader, Her Majesty unexpectedly becomes a voracious reader of fiction and discovers other people's inner lives. That, of course, is the whole point of fiction, and of all these novels that try to break through the monarch's public image.

Middle East

Tributes pour in from the Arab world, where royal families held close ties with Elizabeth

Posted September 9, 2022 at 3:09 PM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II greets King Abdullah II of Jordan at Buckingham Palace in 2011.
WPA Pool
Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II greets King Abdullah II of Jordan at Buckingham Palace in 2011.

Across the Arab world, flags are flying at half-staff and days of mourning were announced as Arab leaders paid tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Royal families in the Middle East boasted close relations with the queen. And local media across the region are displaying images of her many visits during her 70-year reign.

Jordan's King Abdullah II called her a “dear family friend” as he announced seven days of mourning. The United Arab Emirates’ president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, said on Twitter the queen “was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved & respected leader.”

In a statement, Saudi Arabia's King Salman said the queen was "a model of leadership." His son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called her an “example of wisdom, love and peace.”

In Egypt, the Al-Azhar Mosque’s grand imam, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb — considered by many to be the highest authority in Sunni Islam — tweeted his condolences to King Charles III and added that “her Majesty was such a unique, committed, and deeply respected Head of State. She dedicated her life to serving her nation and people.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called the queen's death a great loss, and said he had "full confidence in the ability of King Charles to fill the space left by Queen Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth II became the monarch just as Egypt had formed its republic after overthrowing decades of British occupation in a revolution in 1952. Other Arab countries, including Jordan, Yemen and the UAE, were under the British protectorate and gained full independence in the 1960s and 1970s during Elizabeth’s reign.

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Niagara Falls has been a welcome destination for generations of the royal family

Posted September 9, 2022 at 1:55 PM EDT
Then Princess Elizabeth at Niagara Falls with her husband (right) in 1951.
AFP via Getty
Then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit Niagara Falls in 1951.

As WBFO's Mark Wozniak explains — generations of Queen Elizabeth's family have made their way to Niagara Falls: From her parents' pre-WWII visit to dedicate the site of what is now known as the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, to her grandchildren's visit with their mother Princess Diana to ride the Maid of the Mist.

The visits span decades and mark powerful moments in both Queen Elizabeth's reign and in our recent history. Head to WBFO to see the full timeline.


Biden plans to attend the queen's funeral

Posted September 9, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT
President Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One against a blue sky.
Saul Loeb
AFP via Getty Images
President Joe Biden disembarks from Air Force One upon arrival at Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

President Biden told White House reporters on Friday that he plans to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

“Yes. I don’t know what the details are yet but I’ll be going,” Biden replied in answer to a question from reporters traveling with him on a trip to Ohio.


King Charles offers thanks to his mother and a promise to the country

Posted September 9, 2022 at 1:22 PM EDT
People watch King Charles speak on the television in a dark pub.
Justin Tallis
AFP via Getty Images
Drinkers in the Prince of Wales pub in central London watch a televised address by Britain's King Charles III on Friday.

King Charles III has just delivered his first address to the United Kingdom as monarch.

Speaking from Buckingham Palace, he paid tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday.

In the special broadcast, which was recorded earlier today, the king spoke of his feeling of "profound sorrow." He talked of Queen Elizabeth's unfailing devotion to her country and family, of her "life well lived" and "sacrifices to duty." Looking ahead, he pledged to uphold the constitutional principles of the nation and serve the country with loyalty.

He also announced that his eldest son, Prince William, will now assume the title of Prince of Wales. He ended the broadcast with a simple "thank you" to his mother, the queen.

The speech was broadcast at the start of a memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral in London, at the end of which the first official rendition of "God Save the King" will be sung.


Behind the scenes of the queen's last public portrait

Posted September 9, 2022 at 1:15 PM EDT
Queen Elizabeth smiles while standing in a green and gold room, in the last publicly-released photo taken of her before her death on Thursday.
Jane Barlow
Pool PA/AP
Queen Elizabeth waits in the drawing room at Balmoral in Scotland before inviting Prime Minister Liz Truss to form a new government on Tuesday, two days before her death.

Queen Elizabeth died just days after appointing Liz Truss the United Kingdom's newest prime minister, a time-honored formality that has taken on new meaning as the queen's final act of service and the setting of the last publicly-released photos taken of her.

The ceremony was held at Balmoral Castle in Scotland (as opposed to Buckingham Palace, as is customary) because of the queen's mobility issues and limited capacity to travel.

Photos from PA Media (formerly the Press Association) show the queen shaking hands with Truss and smiling in a moment by herself. She is wearing a cardigan and long plaid skirt, carrying a handbag and walking stick. Social media users took note of visible bruising on her outstretched hand.

Jane Barlow, the photographer behind those now-iconic images, told the PA that Queen Elizabeth was "frail" but "in good spirits" that day.

Barlow took some solo portraits of the queen in the ornate drawing room as they waited for Truss to arrive, and made small talk about the dreary weather. Still, Barlow recalled, "I got a lot of smiles from her." The queen greeted Truss "with a big smile" too — but Barlow's favorite photo is the one of her standing alone.

Barlow says it was an honor and a privilege to capture the queen's last public portrait, and that she's gotten many lovely comments about it in the days since.

"I was there to photograph her meeting the new prime minister but for me the best picture was the one of the queen on her own," she said. "And it has obviously become more significant now."


Watch: King Charles addresses the U.K. as the kingdom mourns Elizabeth

Posted September 9, 2022 at 12:52 PM EDT

King Charles III is making his first public remarks as a monarch Friday, delivering what is expected to be a brief speech at 1 p.m. ET.

Around the same time as the speech, 96-round gun salutes honoring the queen — one round for each year of her life — were to be fired in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London.

Earlier Friday, the king announced a period of royal mourning, to be observed until seven days after the queen's funeral — the exact date of which remains uncertain.

On Saturday morning, the Accession Council is expected to proclaim the new sovereign's accession to the throne.  Afterward, Charles will read and sign a centuries-old oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland and ensure continuity of government.


The U.K. is heartbroken over the queen’s death, U.S. ambassador says

Posted September 9, 2022 at 12:50 PM EDT
A guard looks down at bouquets of flowers piled outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Carl Court
Getty Images
A police officer views flowers and tributes to Queen Elizabeth II outside Buckingham Palace in London on Friday.

The United Kingdom is a nation "heartbroken" over the death of its long-serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Jane Hartley told NPR’s Morning Edition on Friday.

"I can't imagine what it was like for her 70 years ago as a world leader and really being the only woman," said Hartley, who is only the second female U.S. ambassador to the country in half a century. "So I just I just have the deepest, deepest respect for her and for her legacy."

The envoy recalled how, even in ill health just two days before her death, the queen had asked Prime Minister Liz Truss to form a new government.

"She realized how important that was because as we know, there are difficult days in the U.K. right now with the economy, with the cost of living, with the war in Ukraine. So she felt right to the end that she had to lead," Hartley said, adding the move brought me to tears."

When a U.S. ambassador presents credentials to the British monarch, it is usually a lavish ceremony that involves traveling in a horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace. But Hartley recalled how record temperatures had made it too hot for the horses on the day of her ceremony this July.

A blonde woman in a long-sleeve white dress stands in an ornate yellow and gold room in front of a computer screen showing a video call with Queen Elizabeth.
Victoria Jones
Queen Elizabeth II, in residence at Windsor Castle, appears on a screen via video link to receive the new U.S. Ambassador, Jane Hartley, at Buckingham Palace in July.

"So the queen insisted on sending me her car, which was just extremely kind," Hartley told co-host Rachel Martin. "And in my conversations with her, which were all about policy, because she was so informed and cared deeply, she cared about my own personal happiness, she asked me if London was treating me well."

The whole country is mourning her loss, with large crowds gathering at Buckingham Palace to pay their respects and bells tolling across the U.K.

"It really is an end of an era and everybody had tears in their eyes, and I think everybody knew it was coming, but somehow it still felt too soon," Hartley added.

Listen to their full conversation here.

Royal pets

What could happen to Queen Elizabeth's beloved corgis?

Posted September 9, 2022 at 12:37 PM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II talks with members of the Manitoba Corgi Association during a visit to Winnipeg 08 October 2002.
Adrian Wyld
AFP via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II talks with members of the Manitoba Corgi Association during a visit to Winnipeg in 2002.

Among the hallmarks of Queen Elizabeth II was her love for animals, and particularly dogs.

On Thursday, the Queen died in her Balmoral estate in Scotland at age 96. Over the course of her life, Elizabeth owned more than 30 pets — a majority of which were Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

She leaves behind at least four dogs— two corgis, one cocker spaniel and one dorgi (a dachshund corgi hybrid that the queen is credited with originating). Their names are Muick, Sandy, Lissyand Candy, respectively.

Elizabeth's affinity for dogs can be traced back to her 18th birthday, when she was first given a corgi named Susan, from whom all the corgis bred by the queen are descended.

Over the decades, the queen's canine companions were often seen close by their owner wherever she went. In 2014, they helped comfort Dr. David Nott, a surgeon who had just returned from Syria, during a PTSD attack.

In 2015, Elizabeth decided she would stop bringing new dogs under her care out of fear of leaving any puppies behind, Monty Roberts, a royal horse whisperer, told Vanity Fair. But after her husband Prince Philip's death in 2021, Elizabeth had a change of heart.

Without Elizabeth, the dogs may be separated and given to various family members, some experts speculate.

"Andrew has Cocker Spaniels so he might take back the one he gave her. William and Kate also love dogs so they could have them," Claudia Joseph, a journalist based in London, told the New York Post.

Others believe the pets may remain under the care of Elizabeth's trusted staff.

Penny Junor, who has written extensively about the queen's corgis, noted that both Elizabeth's dressmaker, Angela Kelly, and royal employee, Paul Whybrew, have experience caring for the queen's dogs, Newsweek reported.


The Sydney Opera House projects a massive photo to honor Queen Elizabeth II

Posted September 9, 2022 at 12:23 PM EDT
Australia's Sydney Opera House sails are lit up with the picture of Queen Elizebeth II on Sept. 9, 2022, in Sydney.
Robert Wallace
AFP via Getty Images
Australia's Sydney Opera House sails are lit up with the picture of Queen Elizebeth II on Friday.

The famous sails of the Sydney Opera House are lit in somber colors Friday, highlighting a photograph of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The queen visited the landmark several times -- including when she officially declared it open in 1973, Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron said in a statement.

“The human spirit must sometimes take wings or sails,” Elizabeth said, “and create something that is not just utilitarian or commonplace.”

By displaying the photo, Herron said, "We celebrate her contribution to Australian life and culture."

The Opera House is projecting the image until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

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An unexpected sign of Queen Elizabeth's legacy on one D.C. street

Posted September 9, 2022 at 12:09 PM EDT

Back in 1991, Queen Elizabeth visited Washington, D.C., taking time to stop by a housing development in the southwest part of the district. As WAMU/DCist's Martin Austermuhle explains:

On a warm spring day in 1991, D.C. resident Alice Frazier threw all norms out the window and embraced the United Kingdom’s then-monarch as the queen walked into Frazier’s home in Ward 7. The protocol-prohibited hug, memorialized in a picture showing Queen Elizabeth II smiling pleasantly but not returning Frazier’s surprise embrace, came in the midst of the monarch’s official 12-day visit to the U.S. more than three decades ago.

The queen’s trip included stops in Texas, Virginia, Maryland (where she attended a Baltimore Orioles game), as well as the White House. But the monarch also visited a new affordable housing development on Drake Place SE, where Frazier had recently moved.

To memorialize the visit, efforts were made to rename Drake Place “Queen’s Stroll Place,” a name that exists today.

Of course, not everyone was enthused with the idea. Keep reading at

A icon says goodbye

Paddington Bear bids a simple farewell to Queen Elizabeth II

Posted September 9, 2022 at 11:42 AM EDT
The Royal Family / Screenshot by NPR

“Thank you Ma’am, for everything,” Paddington Bear said via the beloved children’s character's Twitter account, sharing good wishes after news emerged that Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign has ended.

The farewell comes just three months after Paddington famously helped the queen celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, joining her for a spot of tea and a marmalade sandwich at Buckingham Palace.

A video of their meeting helped kick off the palace’s party celebrating Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.

Paddington's message is resonating online — as one commenter wrote, "Indeed. Thank you, ma'am, for everything."


World leaders are mourning the queen

Posted September 9, 2022 at 11:20 AM EDT

Here's how world leaders are responding to Queen Elizabeth's death and remembering her life:

In a statement, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to the queen for her "unwavering, lifelong dedication to serving her people." He called her a friend to the U.N. who had visited its New York headquarters twice, more than 50 years apart.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to Canada's longest-reigning sovereign, describing her as a constant presence and an important part of its history.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his thoughts to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth:

German chancellor Olaf Scholz described her as a role model and inspiration, specifically praising "her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II."

French President Emmanuel Macron mourned the "kind-hearted queen":

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared condolences and a personal memory:

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union Commission, described the queen as a symbol of the best of the United Kingdom as well as a personal inspiration.

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II (who is now the world's only reigning female monarch, and Europe's longest-serving — this year was her 50th on the throne) — expressed her condolences in a letter to King Charles.

"Your mother was very important to me and my family. She was a towering figure among the European monarchs and a great inspiration to us all. We shall miss her terribly," she wrote.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to King Charles as well in a Kremlin statement (the Kremlin said today he is "not considering" attending the queen's funeral).

"For many decades Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed her subjects' love and respect as well as authority on the world stage," Putin said, according to a translation.

The pope sent a telegram to the king offering his condolences, according to Vatican News.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese mourned the queen in a lengthy statement, in which he concluded that "this time of mourning will pass but the deep respect and warm regard in which Australians always held Her Majesty will never fade."

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed condolences on behalf of his government and the public, as well as personally.

Dame Sandra Mason, the president of Barbados — which removed the queen as head of state and became a republiclast year — issued a video statement praising her legacy, including her strength of character. She added that Barbados' independence "did not in the least diminish the friendship between our two nations, or indeed, with Buckingham Palace."

Tributes also poured in from Jordan's Queen Rania, Japan's prime minister Fumio Kishida and Emperor Naruhito, Kenyan president-elect William Ruto and many other global leaders.

President Biden and the first lady — who first met the queen when they traveled to the United Kingdom as part of a Senate delegation in 1982 — remembered heras "a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy."

"Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world," they said, adding that they look forward to continuing a "close friendship" with the king and queen consort in the years ahead.


Queen Elizabeth's lack of drama was the secret to her success, a royal historian says

Posted September 9, 2022 at 11:19 AM EDT
A black and white photo of a similing Queen Elizabeth, wearing a jacket, pearl necklace and head scarf, in 1970.
William Lovelace
Getty Images/Hulton Archive
Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to New Zealand, March 1970.

Tracy Borman, royal historian and author of Crown and Sceptre, spoke to NPR's Morning Edition about the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth — starting with her very first days on the throne at age 25.

"She immediately faced whole-scale prejudice about the fact that she was a woman, and people just didn't think she was capable of fulfilling this role of queen," Borman says. "And yet she defied all expectations. And I think it was her constancy and sense of duty, from the beginning, that really set her on the right path."

Those aren't necessarily the most glamorous qualities for a monarch, Borman adds, but she believes "it's the very lack of drama that defined her reign and was the secret of her success."

She says Queen Elizabeth always understood and abided by her constitutional role, upholding tradition while keeping up with the times and embodying the adage that an ideal monarch needed to be "always changing, always the same."

To Borman, the queen's greatest legacy lies in "finally introducing equality into the succession," so that women have equal precedence with men when it comes to inheriting the throne.

Critics say that even if the queen was modern in some ways, she represented a part of British history that many people are not proud of — Borman acknowledges this but says the queen helped pave the way for a more modern monarchy, noting there is talk of King Charles being "defender of faiths" as opposed to the centuries-old title "defender of the faith."

And there's no denying that the royal family suffered a series of setbacks— from the traumatic death of Princess Diana to Prince Andrew's ties to Jeffrey Epstein to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping back from royal duties — during her reign.

So how will the queen's legacy in those moments be remembered?

"I think there's a huge amount to learn from the queen's reactions to those moments," Borman says. "She always upheld the privacy of her position and I think she judged that absolutely correctly. 'Cause in this age that's obsessed with overnight celebrities and global communication, I think the queen upheld that dignity and was this constant, unswerving presence. Even when everything was falling apart around her, she was there, she was constant, a really steady hand."

Listen to the full conversation.


Here's what every living former U.S. president said about the queen

Posted September 9, 2022 at 10:52 AM EDT
Queen Elizabeth, wearing a blue suit and headscarf, shakes hands with then-President Barack Obama as their spouses stand on the grass nearby.
Jack Hill/WPA Pool
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh after landing by helicopter at Windsor Castle in England in April 2016.

Queen Elizabeth had met with every sitting U.S. president, except Lyndon Johnson, since 1951 — 13 in total.

All of those who are still living paid tribute to her after her death, sharing statements of gratitude and some cherished personal memories. Here are some highlights:

The Trumps

Former President Donald Trump issued a statement on behalf of himself and former first lady Melania Trump, praising the queen's "generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humor."

"What a grand and beautiful lady she was — there was nobody like her!” he added.

The Obamas

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama released a lengthy statement honoring the queen, outlining the many ways in which she served the public as well as what she meant to them personally.

The Bushes

Former President George W. Bush paid tribute to the queen's steady resolve, confidence in her people and vision of a brighter future.

"She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit," he wrote. "Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency."

The Clintons

Former president Bill Clinton said he and former first lady Hillary Clinton were grateful for the queen's kindness over the years, especially during their two visits to Buckingham Palace, and "for all she did to deepen the Special Relationship."

The Carters

In a statement issued by the Carter Center, former president and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter extended their condolences too. It reads in part:

"Her dignity, graciousness, and sense of duty have been an inspiration, and we join the millions around the world in mourning a remarkable leader."


See how newspapers around the world handled Queen Elizabeth’s death

Posted September 9, 2022 at 10:50 AM EDT

News of Queen Elizabeth II’s death quickly spread across the world on Thursday, after the long-reigning monarch died at 96. Journalists weighed her legacy, and what the future looks like for the U.K. under King Charles III.

Here’s a look at how different newspapers featured the news on their front pages:

The Financial Times and other outlets splashed color photos of the queen as a young woman across the full width of their front pages. Online, many cheered the paper for choosing a photo that showed Elizabeth not as a stodgy royal but as an excited and engaged leader.

The Guardian emphasized the majesty of the queen's role, in a photo that several other outlets also used.

In Scotland, The Herald used an image of the queen wearing lush green ceremonial robes and the collar of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland's order of knighthood, at her Balmoral estate.

Others used black and white images to show Elizabeth in her later years, such as The New York Times.

The Belfast Telegraph captioned an archival image of Elizabeth, “Thank you, Ma’am.”

In Nigeria — a former British colony — the headline declared, “Bye Elizabeth II!

In Bermuda, The Royal Gazette published a color photo of the monarch with the dates of her life.

The Japan Times shared its original front page from 1953, when Elizabeth was crowned as a young queen (and the paper was called The Nippon Times).

Royal Family

Prince Charles is far less popular than his mother

Posted September 9, 2022 at 10:29 AM EDT
Prince Charles, in a gray suit and green-and-red striped tie, sits at a table in front of a microphone.
Jane Barlow
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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, attends a roundtable in Scotland earlier this month.

As Queen Elizabeth gradually retreated from public life in recent months, Prince Charles stepped in for a growing number of royal duties.

There was just one problem with that arrangement, as NPR's Frank Langfitt reported earlier this year: While the queen was hugely popular, her son was not. Langfitt cited polls that showed some 80% of Britons viewed the queen positively, while only about one-third wanted the 73-year-old to become king.

At least part of that unpopularity seems to stem from how Charles handled his marriage to the late Princess Diana, including maintaining an affair with his now-wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles. (Charles and Diana finalized their divorce in 1996, a year before she was killed in a car accident, and he remarried in 2005.)

Max Hastings, the former editor of Britain's The Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, says the late princess left behind an image of Charles as "a very selfish, quirky, weird man who couldn't understand for the life of him why he was expected to give up his long-term mistress just because he married a young girl."

There have been plenty of other criticisms in the decades since, targeting everything from Charles' character to his capability for the job (including his age).

And while he does have some defenders — who point to his long record of philanthropy and environmentalism — it appears that many Britons share the opinion that he should step aside. An April poll from the data analytics firm YouGov showed that just 34% of people want Charles to become king, while 37% would prefer his son Prince William take the throne.

Langfitt put it this way: "Prince William is more popular, and — at 39 — almost 3 1/2 decades younger than his father. But there is no sign that Charles plans to abdicate. After so many years in the wings, he's more than prepared to do the job, some believe."

Looking ahead

Meghan and Harry's kids could get royal titles, at least in theory

Posted September 9, 2022 at 9:37 AM EDT
Meghan Markle poses with her son Archie, then a baby.
Toby Melville
Pool/Getty Images
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor pose for a photo in Cape Town during a tour of South Africa in 2019.

The queen's death means that Archie and Lilibet, the two young children of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — are eligible to receive royal titles, though it's not clear whether that will actually happen.

Under rules established by King George V in 1917, only the monarch's children and the oldest son of the queen's firstborn (in this case, Prince William's son Prince George) receive royal titles. In 2012, however, Queen Elizabeth issued a "letters patent" so that Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge could give their three children HRH titles.

Archie and Lilbet, as great-grandchildren of Queen Elizabeth, were not known as prince and princess. That could change now that their grandfather, King Charles, is on the throne — unless he intervenes, which Meghan has said is likely.

Harry and Meghan, who married in 2018, stopped using their "Royal Highness" titles when they stepped down as working royals in 2020. A year later, in an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan said that the palace informed her while she was pregnant with Archie (who is now 3) that they would not give her child the title of prince or princess, nor the protection that comes with it.

She said she received no clear reason why, but suggested the decision may have had to do with Archie's race and skin color (she mentioned discussions in which royal family members expressed concerns to Harry about how dark the baby's skin might be, but stopped short of revealing their identities).

She said in the interview that she was told “they want to change the convention for Archie," and suggested that would be an example of “the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”

The Guardianreports that to prevent Archie and Lilibet from becoming prince and princess, Charles would have to issue a letters patent amending those rights. The king has long made his preference for a "slimmed-down" monarchy known, royal experts say.

Queen Elizabeth is survived by 12 great-grandchildren. The line of succession starts with Charles' eldest son, Prince William, followed by his three kids in age order. Prince Harry, Archie and Lilibet are fifth, sixth and seventh in line, followed by Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice.


'Operation London Bridge' maps out the 10 days after Queen Elizabeth's death

Posted September 9, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT

Queen Elizabeth II is being mourned by her family, fans and admirers. In Britain, her death at age 96 has thrown a state apparatus into motion that has sat idle for 70 years — since Elizabeth's father, King George VI, died in 1952.

The British government dubbed the intricate protocol of handling Elizabeth's death "Operation London Bridge."

The London Bridge plans were leaked to Politico last fall. Some of the details may have changed since then — but using them as a guide, here's a brief look at what the documents say will happen in the first 10 days after the end of the queen's record-setting reign:

Day 1
Two 96-round gun salutes honoring the queen — one round for each year of her life — are fired at 1 p.m. local time Friday in London.

Week 1
Charles reads and signs a centuries-old oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland and ensure continuity of government. Elizabeth's body is brought from Scotland to Buckingham Palace in London.

Day 10
A state funeral service is held at Westminster Abbey. After a final service in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, the queen is buried on the castle grounds next to her husband, Prince Philip.

You can read a more detailed list here.


See a young Queen Elizabeth at her father's funeral in 1952

Posted September 9, 2022 at 8:47 AM EDT

Great Britain has observed many royal funerals in the seven decades since Queen Elizabeth took the throne, with a series of solemn-yet-lavish ceremonies for figures including Prince Philip (2021), Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (2002) and Diana, Princess of Wales (1997).

Queen Elizabeth inherited the crown at age 25 when her father, King George VI, died in February 1952. Here's what that period of mourning and transition looked like the last time around.

A black and white photo shows a man and woman walking down steps from an airplane as a small crowd waits.
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Hulton Archive
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, leave their BOAC airliner as they return to London from Kenya following the death of King George VI on Feb. 7, 1952.
A black and white photo of three women wearing veils inside of a car.
Sport and General Press Agency Limited
Princess Margaret (left), Queen Elizabeth (right) and the Queen mother (in background) follow the cortege fron Sandringham house, to Wolferton station, en route for London on February 11, 1952.
A black and white photo shows three women in dresses, heels and head coverings walking next to each other.
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Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mother Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attend the arrival of the remains of King George VI at Westminster Hall in London.
A procession carries a coffin into Westminster Hall.
Sport and General Press Agency Limited
The coffin of King George VI is carried into Westminster Hall. On the left are the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Edinburgh, while Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother can be seen under the canopy at the right.
A man in a feathered hat reads from a large piece of paper in a carriage, as another man holds up a microphone and a crowd of people listen.
International News Photos
The microphone is held for Sir Gerald Wollaston at Temple Bar as he reads the Queen Elizabeth II proclamation in London on February 8, 1952.

Pound notes

Will Britain's currency change following the death of Queen Elizabeth II?

Posted September 9, 2022 at 8:18 AM EDT
 British 10-pound sterling and five-pound sterling note are arranged for a photograph.
Justin Tallis
AFP via Getty Images
The Bank of England said it will make an announcement about the country's paper money "once the period of mourning has been observed."

Elizabeth II was declared queen in 1952, and in 1960, she became the first monarch to have a picture on Britain's paper notes.

Her son Prince Charles III will now take over as king. So will the currency change?

The Bank of England said notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II will still be considered legal money that can be exchanged. It said it will make an additional announcement about the country's existing notes "once the period of mourning has been observed."

"As the first monarch to feature on Bank of England banknotes, the Queen's iconic portraits are synonymous with some of the most important work we do," it said in a statement.

Photos of the queen on paper money are also an anti-counterfeit method, as it is easier to detect changes among facial features than inanimate objects, according to the Bank of England.

As for the coins, since the reign of King Charles II, it has been a tradition to have new monarchs' photos face opposite directions of their predecessors. So King Charles III would be facing the left, as opposed to his mother Elizabeth's coins, whose pictures face the right.


There is public support in Britain for the monarchy, but uncertainty about its future

Posted September 9, 2022 at 7:44 AM EDT
People stand under black umbrellas in front of Buckingham Palace.
Leon Neal
Getty Images
Members of the public stand beneath umbrellas outside the gates of London's Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

What can British public opinion tell us about the possible fate of the monarchy?

An Ipsos poll conducted in Nov. 2021 found that most people believe it will still exist in a decade, but have more doubts about the next 50-100 years.

It found that 60% of Britons, or 3 in 5 people, favored Britain remaining a monarchy — that number is down from 76% in 2016 and marks the lowest level of support for the monarchy since the question was first asked in 1993 (surpassing a previous record in 2005).

Here are some other key takeaways:

  • The public is divided over whether Britain would be worse off (39%) or unchanged (41%) if the monarchy were to be abolished. Only around 11% think Britain would be better, a number that's been fairly constant over the last four decades.
  • There is a similar split between people who think the monarchy should be modernized (42%) or remain largely unchanged (37%).
  • Some 82%, or more than 4 in 5 people, think Britain will still have a monarchy a decade from now, but there's less certainty about the generations ahead. Some 43% think there will be a monarchy in 50 years, and 48% think it will be gone in 100 years (just 28% think it will still be in place by 2121.

A spring 2022 survey by the data analytics firm YouGov draws similar conclusions, finding that Britons of all ages have become less convinced that they will still have a monarchy a century from now.

Do they want it to? Six in 10 Britons think the monarchy should continue to exist in the future, while 22% think the country should have an elected head of state instead.

The poll also found that a majority of Britons — 56% — feel the institution of the monarchy is good for Britain, a significant drop over the last decade (it was 73% in 2012). Notably, that feeling is much less prevalent among younger people.


Even many critics of the monarchy considered themselves 'queenist'

Posted September 9, 2022 at 7:14 AM EDT
The Royal Family stands on a balcony of Buckingham Palace overlooking a large crowd of people waving flags.
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Chris Jackson Collection
Members of the royal family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London during the queen's Platinum Jubilee in June.

There's no doubt that the British royal family — often called "The Firm" — has suffered a series of setbacks and scandals in recent years, harming its reputation and putting its future in doubt.

Even so, many Britons otherwise critical of the monarchy consider themselves fans of Queen Elizabeth.

NPR's Frank Langfitt spoke to several of them in June as she marked 70 years on the throne. They celebrated her as a unifying and stabilizing force for the country, most recently with her messages of encouragement and fortitude during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I just think the sacrifices that she made during what was the worst time that I've ever seen, her having to mourn her husband alone, that image will just — that'll never leave, the sacrifice that she made that day, when so many other people didn't," said Danielle Wallace, a pharmacist who traveled from Belfast for the celebrations. "It just shows the character that she has."

Royal analyst David McClure told Langfitt that part of the queen's allure was her mystique — people didn't really know what she was like, but they projected onto her "what they want to see, what you'd like the nation to be," he explained.

Whether it's nostalgia, mystery or any other number of reasons, support for the queen has consistently outranked that for the institution she represented.

"People who aren't necessarily monarchists say, 'I'm a queenist,' " McClure told NPR last December. "People have been not supporting the monarchy. They've been supporting the queen. And so when she dies, there'll be an enormous void."


A rainbow appeared above Buckingham Palace after the queen's death

Posted September 9, 2022 at 6:05 AM EDT

Crowds gathered at London's Buckingham Palace on Thursday as concerns mounted about the queen's health. So did the rainbows, with photos of a colorful double arch flooding social media around the time that her death was announced.

By that point, according to local media, the crowd had bloomed from hundreds to thousands of people.

A double rainbow stretches across a cloudy sky near Buckingham Palace.
Leon Neal
Getty Images Europe
A rainbow is seen outside of Buckingham Palace on Thursday.


Netflix drama series 'The Crown' may be paused out of respect for Queen Elizabeth

Posted September 9, 2022 at 4:25 AM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II, as portrayed by Olivia Colman in 'The Crown'
Des Willie/Netflix
Queen Elizabeth II, as portrayed by Olivia Colman in 'The Crown'

Production of the Emmy Award-winning drama series The Crown may be put on hold following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The show’s creator, Peter Morgan, told Deadline that the series is a “love letter” to the United Kingdom’s longest-living ruler, who died Thursday at 96, and that the the show will likely be paused.

“The Crown is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect,” Morgan told Deadline. “I expect we will stop filming out of respect, too.”

Back in 2016, show director Stephen Daldrey similarly had said that the show would stop filming should anything happen to Elizabeth.

According to Netflix, Season 5 of the Crown is set to air sometime this fall, but an exact date has yet to be released. The show’s sixth and final season is expected to premiere sometime in 2023.

The future

Britain will struggle and a change will come to the monarchy, one royal watcher says

Posted September 9, 2022 at 3:33 AM EDT
Charles has inherited the throne of the United Kingdom upon the death of his mother.
Jane Barlow
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Charles has inherited the throne of the United Kingdom upon the death of his mother.

The death of Queen Elizabeth marks the beginning of an uncertain future for the British monarchy, and Britain can expect to struggle without her at the helm, according to one expert.

Richard Fitzwilliams is a longtime royal watcher and commentator, and said her death could also have ripple effects beyond the U.K.

“There are 14 other realms which still have the British moniker as head of state. To what extent that will continue is perhaps a question mark, there will certainly be some that will have a referendum on being a republic,” Fitzwilliams said. He added that he didn’t think the monarchy was endangered, but an evolution to meet the times was almost certain.

“I do think [the monarchy] will change, and I do think that King Charles and Queen Camilla will be controversial in some respects, especially there are still those who remembered Diana, Princess of Wales, and an unhappy period over 25 years ago,” he said.

“Looking forward, I would expect as Britain struggles — which it is undoubtedly doing at the moment — you are going to have a series of crises. With the queen at the helm, I think people felt more secure. It remains entirely a question mark what they will feel in the coming months and years.”


What to know about Balmoral, where Queen Elizabeth II spent her final days

Posted September 9, 2022 at 2:50 AM EDT
Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle on Sept. 6.
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Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle on Sept. 6.

Queen Elizabeth II spent her final days and took her last breath at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

For much of her life, the grand estate served as a holiday getaway where, even as a child, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch indulged in simple country-life pleasures. (Think family picnics and lots of muddy walks accompanied by her corgis.) It was also a private refuge where the Queen and the royal family could escape during some of their more painful public moments, far from the prying eyes of the world.

Sir Malcolm Ross, former Comptroller of the Royal Household, told the BBC it was a place where “she can relax, with her dogs, just doing what she thought normal people did, and indeed what normal people do."

Still, little of the interior has been seen of the Queen’s sprawling property, though much of the world was able to get a few glimpses via Netflix’s The Crown. (The Season 4 episode “The Balmoral Test” is set there.)

Here are a few things you might not have known about the vacation sanctuary.

Balmoral Castle, near Ballater in the Scottish Highlands.
Balmoral Castle, near Ballater in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s not as old as you might think

While some version of the estate has been around since the 15th century, the story behind the current castle’s origins only dates back to 1850s. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first rented a dwelling on the property during a visit to Scotland early in their marriage. The two fell in love with the countryside on the banks of the River Dee in Aberdeenshire. By 1852, Prince Albert bought Balmoral. However, the growing royal family decided the castle was too small, and the King Consort, who was a gifted designer, embarked on creating a new one.

When the project was completed in 1856, the older home was demolished. After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria carried on with his vision, adding a series of cottages on the 50,000 acre sprawl.

Britain’s taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the property

Because Prince Albert bought and built Balmoral with his own money, the grand estate has been passed down and inherited through the family. The same is true for Sandringham Estate, which includes a grand manor house on 20,000 acres in Norfolk. (BTW, for those interested in living like royals, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house on the property can now be rented on AirBnB.)

In contrast, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Place are royal residences owned by the Crown Estate, which means they are funded by taxpayers.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and their children, Prince Charles (right), Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, pose for a photo on the lawn of Balmoral Castle in Scotland, in 1960.
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and their children, Prince Charles (right), Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, pose for a photo on the lawn of Balmoral Castle in Scotland, in 1960.

Balmoral has been a sanctuary for the Queen Elizabeth II

Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth made it a practice to retreat to Balmoral during the summer. As a child, she spent time a lot of time at the Scottish castle with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as well as her grandparents. As a young woman, it was a place where she was allowed to indulge in her love of riding, hunting and all things outdoorsy.

Once married to Prince Phillip, the two continued the tradition with their own growing family. And in the final years of his life, they remained at Balmoral together, including during the lockdown. In 2020, they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in at the castle.

King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, and Queen Consort Camilla Bowles, then the Duchess of Cornwall, visit Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve on Royal Deeside in Scotland, back in 2006.
King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, and Queen Consort Camilla Bowles, then the Duchess of Cornwall, visit Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve on Royal Deeside in Scotland, back in 2006.

The castle is also special for King Charles III

The new king also has special ties to the castle. Birkhall cottage – one of 150 on the estate – belongs to the new monarch and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla. The king inherited it in 2002 when his grandmother, the Queen Mother, died.