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Britain's Queen Mother dead at 101

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, has died in her sleep at the age of 101.

The Queen Mother died at 3.15 p.m. (10.15 a.m. ET) at the Royal Lodge in Windsor with her daughter Queen Elizabeth II, the current British monarch, at her bedside.

She had been at Windsor, west of London, since travelling there for the funeral of her daughter, Princess Margaret, in February.

The Queen Mother, who had not appeared in public since November, had been in frail health in recent weeks after suffering from a chest infection over Christmas.

Her condition deteriorated earlier on Saturday, and her doctors were summoned, Buckingham Palace said.

As darkness fell on Saturday, crowds of mourners, some bearing flowers, began to gather at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. (More reaction)

Queen Mother
1900~2002

  

Britain's main television and radio channels interrupted regular programmes with news of the death, which came during the four-day Easter holiday. London Underground displayed the news on signs at underground stations around the capital.

The Union Flag was lowered to half mast at Buckingham Palace. A notice informing the public of the Queen Mother's death was placed on the gate outside.

It read: "The Queen with the greatest sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately.

"Her beloved mother Queen Elizabeth, died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon at Royal Lodge, Windsor. Members of the Royal Family have been informed."

The Queen Mother's death comes two months before Queen Elizabeth II is due to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years of her rule.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Queen Mother had been a symbol of Britain's "decency and courage".

He said the entire nation would join with the Queen and the Royal Family in mourning her death.

"During her long and extraordinary life, her grace, her sense of duty and her remarkable zest for life made her loved and admired by people of all ages and backgrounds, revered within our borders and beyond," he said. (Full story)

U.S. President George W. Bush issued a brief statement through a spokesman, saying: "The president and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened by the death of the Queen Mother."

The Queen Mother's grandson, the Prince of Wales, and great-grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry, said they were "completely devastated" after being informed of the news during their skiing holiday in Switzerland.

They will fly back to the UK on Sunday morning, when the Duke of York will also return from a family holiday with Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

The Queen's other children, Prince Edward and Princess Anne, were at Windsor when their grandmother died, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

The Queen Mother's coffin is expected to be moved to the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park on Sunday morning. Funeral plans are expected to be announced on Sunday, with the ceremony scheduled to take place at Westminster Abbey in London.

A Palace spokesman said the Queen had decided not to attend Sunday's planned Easter service at Windsor's St George's Chapel. Instead, with other members of the Royal Family, she will attend a private service in the chapel at Windsor Castle.

Books of condolence are to be opened on Sunday at St James's Palace, London, and at the Palace of Holyrood house, Edinburgh, said Buckingham Palace.

The Queen Mother is credited for bringing the royal household -- previously a stuffy institution -- far closer to the people. (Full biography)



 
 
 
 






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