In a somber and sudden turn of events, Queen Elizabeth II -- Canada's head of state and the longest-reigning British monarch -- has died at the age of 96.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” a statement from Buckingham Palace reads. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
News of the Queen’s death has quickly saturated the internet. She was a beloved public figure who took the throne at age 25 and held the position for seven decades thereafter.
A press release from the City of Toronto commiserates the news, recognizing Queen Elizabeth II as not only the longest-reigning monarch in British history, but also the longest reigning female monarch and the second-longest reigning monarch in world history.
“On behalf of the people of Toronto, I offer heartfelt condolences to The King and members of the Royal Family as well as to the many people throughout the Commonwealth,” says Mayor John Tory. “So many of us have known no other Queen. She was the one constant and reassuring presence in our own country and on the world stage – a beacon of eloquence, stability and commitment to duty – over so many decades. The Queen will be profoundly missed."
The then-Princess Elizabeth first visited Toronto with Prince Philip in October 1951. The two enjoyed a quintessential Toronto experience: a Toronto Maple Leafs game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
In 1959, Queen Elizabeth visited Toronto as Head of State for the first time. She returned to Toronto on five other occasions, including in 1984, to commemorate Toronto’s 150th birthday, and in 1984 for her Royal Tour.
“Our city has had a long and warm relationship with The Queen,” says Tory. “Today, as we mourn The Queen’s passing we are thankful for the long life she has lived, devoted to our service and the service of the entire Commonwealth. We pray that she has now found rest and peace everlasting. Across Toronto, our thoughts are with the King and all the members of the Royal Family at this sad time.”
Memories of the late Queen can be found throughout Toronto. She has lent her royal patronage to the Toronto French School, the Canadian National Exhibition Association, and the Queen’s Plate, amongst more. And several landmarks around the city have been named in her honour, including the Queen Elizabeth II Building and Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place, the rose gardens Queen’s Park and Grange Park, and the Diamond Jubilee Promenade on Front Street.
Flags are currently at half-masted at all City facilities, parks, and vessels. This will continue throughout the mourning period. The Toronto Sign will also be dimmed this evening.
Anyone hoping to send condolences can access instructions and information through the City’s Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1926–2022 webpage. An archival exhibit entitled The Queen City: Her Majesty in Toronto is available on the City’s Toronto Archives webpage.