Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday afternoon at her Balmoral Estate in the Scottish Highlands. Aged 96, she was Britain’s longest serving monarch, with her reign spanning over eight decades.

Ascending to the throne in 1952 following the death of her father, Queen Elizabeth II served as the Queen Regnant of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and also as the Head of the Commonwealth.

The news came as a shock to many Britons, as she had been photographed only two days ago with the incumbent Prime Minister Liz Truss, appearing to be in good form as she welcomed the new leader of her Parliament.

A sign of the Queen’s poor health may have been gleaned through the fact it was the first time in her reign that she did not greet an incoming Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace, with her poor health presumably the reason the trip from Scotland to London could not be made.

The Queen, who has had a number of health scares in the past, only lost her partner of 73 years, Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, in April of last year.

Having ruled for such a lengthy period of British history – a timespan which saw her reign through war in Ireland, conflicts in the Middle East and numerous economic depression – Britain is set to enter a period of great uncertainty in which its one constant over the last eight decades is no longer present.

The Queen’s eldest son, Charles, is set to become the new monarch in the wake of his mother’s passing. However, the actual coronation will likely be months away as the United Kingdom enters an official period of mourning.

Charles, whose regal name will see him become Charles III, faces the tough task of continuing the uniting spirit with which the Queen ruled. One such act which the Irish nation will remember is the Queen’s historic visit to the Republic in 2011 in which she expressed sorrow towards acts committed during The Troubles.

At a time of such great upheaval in British political circles, having just seen the resignation of Boris Johnson, being in a deadlock over Brexit negotiations with the EU and staring down the barrel of another recession, the news of the Queen’s passing could not have come at a busier time for the newly appointed Liz Truss.

With tens of thousands of people already gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London, the United Kingdom is set to enter a ten-day period of mourning, one which will culminate with the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, before her removal to and burial at Windsor Castle.

Political Correspondent – Rory Fleming