The queen is dead.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96.
News of her death captivated the world, particularly in her homeland. As The Washington Post’s Adrian Higgins wrote, “In her reign, which began in February 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth served as a constant and reassuring figure in Britain and on the world stage as she helped lead her country through a period of profound shifts in geopolitical power and national identity.”
The world was seemingly put on notice early Thursday when word broke that her family was rushing to be by her side as Buckingham Palace put out a rare statement saying doctors were “concerned” about Elizabeth’s health.
At 6:30 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. Eastern time), the announcement was made: Queen Elizabeth II was dead. Here is the announcement of her death on BBC World News.
All three major American networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — broke into regularly scheduled programming to announce the news. Many Fox affiliates picked up the live coverage from Fox News. Here’s what it looked like on CBS News. And NBC News. And ABC News.
All three networks had extensive packages ready to go, telling the story of how she became queen, her marriage, the birth of her children (and grandchildren and great-grandchildren), the death of Princess Diana, the death of her husband, and so much more from the highlights, the lowlights, the triumphs and the controversies over her 70 years as queen.
Given Elizabeth’s age and how new outlets work, these stories were certainly put together well before Thursday. But that didn’t make them any less impactful. They were well done, well detailed and all-encompassing. It also should be noted that the networks stayed on the air well after making the announcement. CBS News had coverage for about an hour after the news broke, while ABC News and NBC News continued on well after that. Main network anchors Norah O’Donnell (CBS) and Lester Holt (NBC) led their networks’ coverage of this historic day.
CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams summed it up perfectly: “It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which this is the end of an era. She was a tiny woman in physical stature. But she was a giant, a towering figure in this country.”
American newspapers such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and USA Today had blaring headlines on their websites — the kind of headlines reserved only for the biggest news stories. CNN used its “Breaking News” banner — something it has done much less of since Chris Licht took over as the network’s boss.
Speaking of CNN, these are the moments — breaking news — when the network shines. Led by Christiane Amanpour from Buckingham Palace and Anderson Cooper in New York, CNN’s coverage included smart analysis about Elizabeth’s life and impact, how the people of the U.K. felt about her and what lies ahead with Prince Charles now becoming King Charles III. The network brought in more than a dozen royal observers, as well as its own correspondents, to capture the magnitude of the moment.
Here is some of the notable coverage of Thursday’s news about Queen Elizabeth:
- Superb visuals in The Washington Post, published in May: “Queen Elizabeth II: A visual timeline of her 70 years on the throne.”
- The New York Times with “Queen Elizabeth II: A Life in Photos.”
- The Daily Beast’s royal correspondent Tom Sykes and senior writer Tim Teeman with “Queen Elizabeth’s Death Heralds End of a Remarkable, History-Making Reign.”
- The Washington Post’s George F. Will with “Elizabeth II’s death underscores continuity in an era of disjunctions.”
- The Atlantic’s Helen Lewis with “The Britain That The Queen Leaves Behind.”
- The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead with “The Reign of Queen Elizabeth II Has Ended.”
- For The New York Times, Sarah Lyall with “An Inscrutable Monarch, Endlessly Scrutinized Onstage and Onscreen.”
- CNN with “The life of Queen Elizabeth II.”
- The Associated Press’ Sylvia Hui with “10 things to know about Queen Elizabeth II’s life.”
- For Politico, Otto English (the pen name used by writer and playwright Andrew Scott) with “The Short, Unhappy Life of Elizabeth Windsor.”
- The Washington Post’s William Booth and Gillian Brockell with “The day Elizabeth became queen in a treehouse in Kenya.”
- And, the other news of course is that Prince Charles is becoming King Charles III. Here’s The New York Times’ Mark Landler with “Charles Ascends to a Role He Has Prepared for All His Life.”
This story is developing and will be updated.