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Minute by minute: What happened the day the Queen died and Charles became King

A detailed breakdown of how the news from Balmoral filtered out across the world.

Royal standard at half mast over Balmoral.
The Royal Standard was lowered to half mast at Balmoral when the Queen died. Image: Owen Humphreys/PA

The death of the late Queen plunged a shocked nation into mourning for its longest-reigning monarch.

As the first anniversary approaches, here is how the historic day unfolded:

Rumours begin to swirl in newsrooms early in the day that the Queen has taken ill at Balmoral Castle, and possibly had a fall.

Two days before, the Queen was happily hosting guests on the Aberdeenshire estate, and carrying out official duties by bidding farewell to Boris Johnson and appointing Liz Truss as the new prime minister.

But she looked frail in photographs and postponed a Privy Council meeting on the Wednesday after being ordered by doctors to rest.

The Queen met new prime minister Liz Truss just days before she died. Image: Jane Barlow/PA


10.30am: Behind the scenes, the then-Prince of Wales makes a 120-mile dash by helicopter from Dumfries House to Balmoral after being alerted to the Queen’s worsening condition.

The Duchess of Cornwall cancels a not-yet publicly announced official visit to a cancer centre in Lanarkshire and travels by road from Birkhall.

The Princess Royal, who is staying in Scotland, is already at the Queen’s bedside.

Charles visits his mother and later goes foraging for mushrooms on the estate as he contemplates his accession and imminent duty as king, before he returns to the Queen’s side.


12.12pm: Initial indications that something is afoot are seen in the House of Commons.

Then then-chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Nadhim Zahawi, sits down next to PM Liz Truss and begins whispering to her while she listens to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s response to her energy statement.

Labour MP Chris Bryant tweets: “Something odd is going on in the Commons. Zahawi briefing pm urgently.”

Sir Keir, too, is passed a note by his deputy Angela Rayner, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also being handed a piece of paper updating him about the developing situation.

Ms Rayner later reveals the note read: “The Queen is unwell and Keir needs to leave the Chamber as soon as possible to be briefed.”

Ms Truss and Sir Keir depart.

12.32pm: Buckingham Palace then issues a concerning statement, confirming the Queen is under medical supervision.

It reads: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

Queen smiling
There were concerns about the Queen’s health for several months. Image: PA

Close family have been informed, the Palace says.

BBC One interrupts Bargain Hunt at 12.39pm to deliver the statement and suspends its regular programming.

12.46pm: Clarence House confirms Charles and Camilla have travelled to Balmoral, and a minute later Kensington Palace say William, then-the Duke of Cambridge, is to head north.

The Duchess of Cambridge remains in Windsor where her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are starting at a new school.


1.38pm: Palace sources say the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex are also on their way to the Queen’s Scottish home.

1.54pm: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce they are going to Balmoral. Charles has phoned Harry earlier to tell him of the Queen’s worsening health.

Harry texts William to ask whether he and Kate are flying up, but receives no reply.

Prince William and Prince Harry exchanged texts during the day. Image: Martin Meissner/AP/Shutterstock

Behind the scenes, Charles calls Harry again to ask him not to bring Meghan.

The duke says in his memoir that he tells his father “Don’t ever speak about my wife that way”.

Charles says only immediate family will be there, and not Kate.


2.39pm: A Royal Air Force flight takes off from RAF Northolt in South Ruislip, west London, carrying William, Andrew, Edward and Sophie.


3.10pm: Elizabeth II – the nation’s longest reigning monarch – dies at the age of 96 in her bedroom in the castle, surrounded by Charles, who immediately accedes to the throne as the new King, Camilla and Anne. Also there is the Queen’s doctor, GP Douglas Glass.

Her death – the cause of which is listed on her death certificate as old age – brings an end to the Second Elizabethan age which has spanned 70 years.

Scanned image of Queen's full death certificate
The Queen’s death certificate.

3.50pm: The royals on the RAF plane, a Dassault Falcon, land at Aberdeen airport, too late to say their final farewells.


4.30pm: Prime Minister Liz Truss is informed of the Queen’s death by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

4.38pm: Sources close to Harry and Meghan say Harry is now travelling alone. He charters a private flight from Luton.


– Just after 5pm: A fleet of cars, including a Range Rover driven by William, arrives at Balmoral.

Andrew is in the passenger seat and Edward and Sophie are in the back.

Royals barely visible through tinted windscreen inside Range Rover arriving at Balmoral
Prince William driving Prince Andrew front passenger, Sophie, now the Duchess of Edinburgh, and Prince Edward arrive at Balmoral. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

5.50pm: A double rainbow appears over Buckingham Palace after a heavy downpour as members of the public gather outside.


6.30pm: News of the Queen’s death is announced to the world.

A Buckingham Palace statement reads: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Two men in military uniform attaching a framed notice to railings outside Buckingham Palace
A notice announcing the Queen’s death is attached to the gates of Buckingham Palace. Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The union flag at Buckingham Palace is lowered to half mast.

Newsreader Huw Edwards reads out the news on the BBC. Tributes flood in from around the globe.


7.04pm: Charles issues his first statement as King, and describes his mother’s death as “a moment of the greatest sadness”.

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother,” the new sovereign says.

“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

King Charles looking solemn while standing at podium giving a speech
King Charles III during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace in the days following the Queen’s death. Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

7.07pm: Prime Minister Liz Truss, dressed in black, addresses the nation outside No 10.

“Today the crown passes, as it has done for more than 1,000 years, to our new monarch, to our new head of state, His Majesty King Charles III,” she says announcing the monarch’s choice of regnal title for the first time.


– Around 8pm: Harry arrives at Balmoral. He is in the air when the announcement of the Queen’s death is made.

When he lands at Aberdeen airport, he receives a text from Meghan telling him to call, but learns the news after checking the BBC’s website on his phone.

The duke is greeted at the castle by Anne. Charles, William and Camilla – the new Queen – have already left for Birkhall.

Harry visits the late Queen’s body to pay his respects, whispering that he hopes she is happy and “with Grandpa”.

Group of people under umbrellas next to wooden fence next to side of road outside Balmoral
People at Balmoral paying their respects to Her Majesty The Queen on the day of her death. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Behind the scenes, the long-held London Bridge plans for the Queen’s death are rapidly put into action, setting out the next 11 days according to a strict timetable which feature a lying in state and then the solemnity and grandeur of a state funeral.

A grieving Charles and Camilla dine with William at Birkhall, and prepare to return to London the next day, Friday, with the King due to address the nation on television.

The King’s historic Accession Council is set for Saturday September 10.