Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch who brought stability to a changing nation

Queen Elizabeth II has died at her Balmoral estate in Scotland, at age 96, Buckingham Palace said Thursday.

She served as the constitutional monarch of the United Kingdom for 70 years, making her the longest-ruling monarch in British history.

Her reign spanned a remarkable arc in British history and was defined by duty to country and considerable family pain.

Her death is a major milestone for the country, triggering an outpouring of national affection and grief.

It also comes at a time when the U.K. is transitioning from a deeply controversial prime minister, Boris Johnson, to a new one, Liz Truss, who just took over the job this week.

The country faces skyrocketing inflation and the challenge of the biggest war in Europe since 1945.

Elizabeth was born into an empire on which the sun never set and was the country's last major figure with a connection to World War II,

a searing, ultimately triumphant experience that, for some, continues to define the nation.

On V-E Day in 1945, Elizabeth, then 19, described slipping out of Buckingham Palace to join the jubilant crowds.

"I remember lines of unknown people, linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief," she recalled.