Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died at the age of 96, ending a reign that began when her father, King George VI, died in 1952.
The throne has now passed to her oldest son, King Charles III, who mourned his mother’s passing as a “moment of great sadness” that would be “deeply felt” around the world.
Newly installed Prime Minister Liz Truss, who had been appointed in the Queen’s last official act on Tuesday, paid tribute to the late monarch with these words: “And with the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country, exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words ‘God save the King’.”
Film audiences will remember Helen Mirren’s Academy-award-winning portrayal of Elizabeth in the 2006 biopic The Queen, written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Frears. On Thursday afternoon, Mirren said: “I’m mourning along with the rest of my country, the passing of a great Queen. I’m proud to call myself of the Elizabethan age. If there was a definition of nobility, Elizabeth Windsor embodied it.,,We mourn a woman, who, with or without the crown, was the epitome of nobility.”
Mirren’s role focused on the impact that Princess Diana’s 1997 death had on the royal family. The actress also revealed in an interview with Radio Times magazine how she’d written to the Queen as she began making the film: “How do you write to your queen? Was it, ‘Madam’ or ‘Your Highness’ or ‘Your Majesty’? I said, ‘We are doing this film. We are investigating a very difficult time in your life. I hope it’s not too awful for you.’”
“I can’t remember how I put it,” Mirren continued. “I just said that in my research I found myself with a growing respect for her, and I just wanted to say that.”
Tributes from others in the entertainment community began pouring in as news spread of the Queen’s passing. Peter Morgan, creator and showrunner of the Netflix series The Crown, said he expected filming would pause on the project out of respect for the late monarch.
Sir Elton John, who composed “Candle in the Wind” and sang a revised version it at Diana’s funeral—the original 1973 song was a tribute to the late actress Marilyn Monroe–wrote: “Along with the rest of the nation, I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s passing. She was an inspiring presence to be around and led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine caring warmth.”
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first investiture of a British monarch to be broadcast on the new medium of television. Her state funeral to take place in London will be the first to be live-streamed on the Internet.