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CNN Live Event/Special

Queen Elizabeth II Dies at 96. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 08, 2022 - 13:30   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We could get news on the queen at any time.

Stay right here. We're going to take a quick break. More ahead.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COOPER: I want to go straight to London. I want to bring in CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, outside Buckingham Palace.

Max, what are you learning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The queen has died. Very sadly. She died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

The king and queen consort, the reference there to Charles -- he automatically becomes king -- will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.

Just looking at another received another e-mail I received. Is there any extra. No. The queen has died. And long live the king. I'm not going to call him King Charles because we don't know what his name will be.

But we know the queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon, which is horrific news for the nation. And I can only imagine how people feel watching this.

You'll see that the flag over Buckingham Palace has been lowered symbolizing the queen's death.

I don't know quite what to say. I mean, this is the news we were dreading. But obviously, what happened this afternoon was the queen died and the family were informed and they headed up to Balmoral and are there to pay their respects.

There's a very clear process that follows now. We expect to hear from the king tonight in a televised address. And you'll start hearing bells tolling across London and the nation. And flags, lowered like this, will be reflected in public building across the United Kingdom.

And we now have a very clear process of about 10 days, leading up to a funeral. But I don't want to get into too much detail about the plans I've seen

because they need to be signed off by the king to be formalized. But we'll hear more details about that, I'm sure, as the evening progresses.

But Queen Elizabeth has died at the age of 96, which is a horrific moment for the U.K. but also 14 other nations around the world and, indeed, other nations where she wasn't head of state, who revered her as the longest serving, I would say, most revered head of state until she died this afternoon.

COOPER: Let me just ask you, personally, you have followed this family through much of your career. You're a royal correspondent. You have watched the queen in good times and bad times.

What are your thoughts about her in this moment, about her reign, about her life, about her legacy?

FOSTER: I think what she did was extraordinary. She came to the throne in her 20s with a crumbling empire and many people talking about the death of the monarchy. Somehow she turned that into one of the most successful, arguably, the most successful monarchies that Britain has ever seen.

She reigned over a tumultuous period of British history, the media revolution, the loss of reverence in society.

She is someone we can't relate to because of the kind of life that she lived. But someone who we did ultimate learn to relate to because of the way she managed her monarchy.

She remained relevant by embracing the media, by connecting to us, by speaking to us, by showing -- by bringing in television cameras and showing her meeting other people, a very simple little gestures, the things that made her very relevant to us and made her relatable.

She was also there in times of grief. Any national moment, we would look to her and she would be there for us. We would see her at regular events over the course of the year. So she tiptoed through our lives and she was always there.

I think what is going to be very difficult is for us not to see her in our ultimate moment of grief, which is her dying.


And we will now look to the king. We'll wait to hear whether or not the king keeps the name Charles, King Charles, or he chooses another name. We'll get details on that when a placard is put up there at Buckingham Palace where he will -- where the formal announcement will be made, and there will be reference to his name.

We know that Camilla is now the queen consort. She is Queen Camilla. Prince William is now the duke of Cornwall. He will inevitably become the prince of Wales because that is something -- a title that will come to him. He takes over Cornwall. And now Prince George is second in line to the throne.

This is a huge moment in British history and commonwealth history. And I think for the world. Because I think she transcended actually monarchy. And I think she was a truly global figure and one who has a guaranteed place in the history books.

I'm now looking down at those people gathering outside the palace gates and I think those numbers will escalate and it will be a very emotional scene as this news sets in.

COOPER: Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It is very extraordinary to hear Max describe what's happened and keep using the word King Charles or, sorry, king, the new king.

Because for 70 years, this country and the world has only known a queen. Queen Elizabeth. She was one of only a very few female monarchs of this kingdom. And incredibly successful along with Queen Victoria, along with Queen Elizabeth I.

And it is very difficult to know where the country will go in terms of its relationship with the monarchy. It is probably too early to even talk about this now.

But we are in a state of crisis here in the United Kingdom, like around the rest of the world, prompted by the war in Ukraine and by many other issues -- food poverty, energy poverty, inflation, strikes. You know, people's unrest.

Not to mention climate, which she was very, by the way, devoted to. Along with her fellow 96-year-old, David Attenborough, who is world renowned as well.

When we talk about how she never did any interviews, she kind of did a quasi-interview with him celebrating I think their 95th birthdays or something, some such event.

And it was just amazing to see how she was in her own way really on the curve of important issues like the climate. Her husband, her late husband, Prince Philip, was very much on that issue as well.

I think we saw the queen decline in terms of morale and health when her husband, Prince Philip, died. We were both here reporting on her, on his funeral. It was the last time we saw the queen really out in public.

Yes, we did on her jubilee, but that was in the middle of COVID. She was all on her own.

And I remember people speculating then about how she might continue her life without the man who was her life partner, not just personally but also professionally.

And she did decline quite significantly after that, with COVID. She had a bout of COVID, with this euphemistically phrased mobility problems, which, you know, she was 96 years old. Yes, she had some trouble walking.

But she was so often viewed standing, even in the last months, even in the last couple days as we pored over the last picture of her, greeting her latest and her last prime minister, Liz Truss, the 15th prime minister of this country.

We've heard from former prime ministers just before this announcement was made, Tony Blair, David Cameron, from different parties, wishing her and the family well, concerned about the news that was coming out in the past several hours.

As we've said, we know that President Biden is I believe the 14th or so president she has known. She first knew President Truman and all of the other U.S. presidents.

And, yes, she has been the head of the commonwealth. She's been surrounded by world leaders throughout the last 70 years.

And has given a message I guess of continuity. I guess that's it, continuity and stability in a very, very turbulent world, particularly throughout her reign.


Bianca Nobilo, it is so interesting to hear Christiane talk about Britain being at a crisis right now in terms of the economy, gas prices, and the like.

This is -- Queen Elizabeth II oversaw and was a steadying force through so many crises over the last 70 years of her reign.

There's no telling now how the king, what his reign will be like and what impact that will have.


They're posting right now the statement of her death on the gates of Buckingham Palace. "The queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon." the statement said.

"The king and queen consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and return to London tomorrow, Thursday, 8th September 2022."

That is the tradition, posting a statement on the gates of Buckingham Palace.

Let's just watch.

Bianca, the person at the helm through so many crises over the last 70 years is no longer there.

AMANPOUR: Is Anna Stewart there?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: She is not. She has been the through-line, the continuity, a towering historical figure and living legend around the world and around the commonwealth. Britain is not only on the verge of an economic crisis but also an

identity crisis. It has been buffeted. It's been challenged. To some extent, it's confused about its place in the world after Brexit.

There's no longer peace on the European continent. It is a time of great flux and great uncertainty.

And this is usually when the British public would look to the monarch.

If you consider during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was referred to as the comforter-in-chief for the speeches she gave to the nation, for the solace, and the comfort that she provided.

This will be a moment of profound shock and grief. And I say this as I see the crowds swelling behind us outside the front of Buckingham Palace.

Even, Anderson, on a personal level for me, I grew up in New Zealand where the queen was also head of state. And once I moved to England, she came to my primary school once or twice. I had the opportunity to meet her.

She seemed to have touched so many people's lives somehow. A woman with such a dedication to her civic duty that was unerring. As Christiane and Max have said, abdication was never in her vocabulary. She loved this role. It wasn't just her duty.

And Britain has lost one of the true historical greats this afternoon.

AMANPOUR: And a real patriot.

FOSTER: Well, the ultimate patriot. Someone that dedicated her life, ultimately, to work and has made many sacrifices.

I think what we're looking for now, I would expect the prime minister to make the first statement. She will come out on Downing Street, I'm sure, any moment now and try to sum up what is a legacy, which is so transcending because it covered 70 years of reign where so much changed.

The podium is out. So the podium comes out in Downing Street for state addresses. Liz Truss, how many days has she been in office?

AMANPOUR: Two, for heaven's sake.

FOSTER: I mean, this arguably could define her career when we're talking about energy --


AMANPOUR: And, Max, honestly, for the grandeur of the queen's life and the expectation all throughout this day, I'm really struck by the simplicity of the message that has been affixed to the gates of Balmoral.

The official so-called letter that announces the queen's death just so utterly simple. No grand words. Just "the queen died peacefully today," this afternoon, talking about the king and queen consort who will remain in Balmoral until tomorrow.

That's it. That's it. The formal announcement

FOSTER: Yes. I think, as Bianca noted, the crowds coming out there, that is going to be the really emotional moment. People are really shocked about how they feel. You know, we had it with Diana but this is times 10 I would argue.

We're waiting for Liz Truss to come out. I'm sure you haven't seen the Web site but I think you'll see the royal Web site turning black. You'll start hearing cannons being fired at royal palaces. You'll see flags at half-staff across the nation and across the commonwealth.

I think there's just going to be a massive outpouring of grief.


FOSTER: A big test, a huge test for Liz Truss to try to express the nation at a moment when most people can't probably even find words.


Max, I want to go to Matthew Chance who is standing by outside 10 Downing Street.

Matthew, we should point out, it is not just the nation. It is not just people in Great Britain watching. It is the world that is watching and noting and mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Of course, Queen Elizabeth II isn't just the queen of Britain but the queen of 15 countries. And so this is a loss on an international scale.


There's been a flurry of activity here at Downing Street. We showed you the flags earlier at full staff. They have now been lowered to half-staff, which is that sort of early official recognition of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

You can also see that the lectern has been put out in front of the door of 10 Downing Street in preparation for the prime minister to step outside her official residence and office and to address the cameras and the nation and, of course, to address the world at this moment of loss.

It's an incredible feat she has got to embark on. It would be for anybody, given that she has to be the sort of mourner-in-chief, if you like, for the nation, for the commonwealth of nations as well.

That would be difficult for, you know, anyone to do. But when you consider Liz Truss has only been in this job for two days. And she's not, I think fair to say, the best public performer, unless she has sort of fitted into that and got fully comfortable with it yet, it is going to be an enormous challenge for her.

So really interesting to see what she has to say and how she says it as well.

As I say, we don't know exactly when that door of Number 10 Downing Street is going to open.

I tried to get some timing on that a few moments ago from one of the Downing Street aides that was milling around outside here and setting up the lectern but he said he didn't know.


CHANCE: But the expectation is it will happen sort of any moment now.

COOPER: And, Matthew, it was only on Tuesday that the British prime minister, Liz Truss, met the queen at Balmoral and it's really the last photo we have seen of the queen.

CHANCE: It was. And I've looked again at that photo very hard. You can see the queen's 96 years old. She was 96. She looked very frail.

In retrospect, looking back on it, you can see she was not her old self. Obviously, within days of that, a couple days, 48 hours, you know, she's passed.

And so this was obviously a very serious -- there have been enormous preparations planned for the death of Queen Elizabeth, really since the 1960s.

I mean, three times a year, committees meet to decide what the funeral arrangements will be. The queen has had her own input into what -- how she would like to be sort of seen off.

And there's an enormous security operation that is going to be swinging into action right now. It is going to be one of the biggest security operations that London has ever seen.

Of course, the expectation is there will be vast crowds of people coming to the British capital. It's going to involve the police, the other security forces, the armed forces, transport, and all of those things working together for what will obviously be the funeral of the century for this country.

As that is now getting under way, the first step in that is going to be taking place already. And of course, it has to unfold this plan. It's called Operation London Bridge, by the way, was the code name given.

There's a special code phrase that would be passed on to the prime minister when the queen was dead and that is "London Bridge is down." Now obviously, that has been passed on to the prime minister. And she's going to be coming out, as we say, in a couple of minutes. But concurrently, with Operation London Bridge, the funeral arrangements of Queen Elizabeth II, Operation Spring Tide, which is the investiture and the coronation of a new monarch, which is going to be Charles. And so that also has to get under way as well.

So we're entering a period, which is going to take some time in this country of enormous planning, miniscule planning that is going to see these two enormous events for this nation and for the world sort of unfold in the way that Britain does these things, usually very well and planned to the last second.

So those very complex operations are now getting under way.

COOPER: As we continue to look at the images from London, from Windsor Castle, from Balmoral, you see the crowds gathering and increasing in size outside Buckingham Palace.

The notice of the queen's death placed in a frame on the gates at Buckingham Palace

We're joined here in New York by Zain Asher, Julia Chatterley as well.

A remarkable moment for the history of this family, the history of Great Britain, the commonwealth countries, and for us all witnessing the death of a monarch that most of us have lived our whole lives seen from afar.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say that there are a few moments that will rival this one in my lifetime just in terms of scale than being here, watching what I'm seeing on my screen, the death, essentially, of Queen Elizabeth II.

We all remember where we were on 9/11, for example. And everybody watching this will remember where they were on the 8th of September 2022, 6:30 in the evening, U.K. time, when it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died.

This afternoon, all of us feared the worst, and of course, the worst did actually happen, just announced 20 minutes ago. This is a time of just deep, deep grieving and mourning for the entire British population.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: I think I'm an inferior journalist to my other British colleagues. I'm deeply saddened. I'm heartbroken for the family. I'm heartbroken for the British people that feel strongly about the royal family. And of course, there are those on both sides.

The irony here -- and I think the queen herself would also appreciate it -- is she's perhaps the best person to tell everyone how to handle this situation, to act with grace and calm.

And I guess I fancifully imagine she's now looking down on Charles and saying, to steal the phrase, keep calm and carry on. Because that's what is -- and does need to happen here.

But I -- I don't think, for us, we should underplay the emotion of the moment, the gravity of the moment, the fact that -- and we keep saying it, for most of us, we do not know a world without Queen Elizabeth II in it.

And we don't know what's coming. And we don't know what kind of king "King Charles" will make, even if he's going to be King Charles III because we've had two "Charles" before.

COOPER: And he has been preparing his whole life for this moment.


CHATTERLEY: He has. But how do you prepare? And the fact that you step into a job that you have been prepared for, all your life, but at the same time, you have the heartbreak of losing your mother.

And I think, again, it goes back to what we were saying. There are children here that are in mourning. Grandchildren, great-grandchildren that will hear the news as well.

As much as this is public mourning now, and it will continue for days to come, it is also a family that's deeply grieving.

I think, for those that love the queen, whether you're a royalist or otherwise -- and I think there are many of us out there, and I admit I'm one of them -- I think the saving grace in this moment.

And I think Christiane said it best when she said, about the 17 months that have passed since Queen Elizabeth lost her soulmate in Prince Philip.

And actually, I believe they're united somewhere now. And I'm sure the first thing she says to him is, you know, this 17 months was the longest of my life.

COOPER: I want to go to Richard Quest, who is in Singapore at this hour, watching events and covering them as well.

Richard, your thoughts on this sad day.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE & CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Incredible sadness and upset. The queen has been -- Julia summed it up. I mean, you know, look, I'm a monarchist. I supported the queen. And she has been part of my life from the get-go.

And therefore, tonight, as I -- I mean, even saying King Charles, you know, we've joked about it sort of in the past, and people taking jabs, but now it's King Charles, and William is next behind, and everything moves on.

So, incredible sadness for those of us who have lived in the U.K. who have been part of the queen's reign, and an element of what uncertainty of what comes next. That's clearly how it all machinates. At a time, Anderson, of great international tension. The queen was rock solid. The queen was always there. We used to have

a saying, what would the queen say? What would the queen do? Well, now, we haven't got that. But we'll get on. We'll move on.

But tonight, the way I feel at the moment, I can sum it up in one, deep upset and sadness.

COOPER: It is such a difficult role to step in. I mean, she has defined this role for generations of people all around the world.

And for Prince Charles, whatever -- king -- if he takes the name King Charles or whatever name he takes -- trying to figure out how you be a king in this modern age in this modern Great Britain.

QUEST: Right. Oh, look, you ask a lot of Brits, and they'll say, well, perhaps Charles, it would be nice if he just skipped Charles and went straight to William. But that's not the way monarchy works. You don't pick and choose your monarchs. You've got to follow the system.


Charles doesn't have the charisma of William. He doesn't have the -- but he has had a life of duty as well. And he has served the country loyally and with great dignity over many years, except, of course, for the years where, of course, his personal life created scandal.

But he is steeped in the future. He was ahead of the game with environmental issues. He was ahead of the game on climate change. He's ahead of the game on a lot of thoughts that are now normal, he was suggesting years ago.

So, you know, there you have it. I was about to say, Prince Charles. No. King Charles. And it's Prince William who will become the prince of Wales.

Now, he has to rise to the occasion. I believe he's going to speak to the country or in a pre-recorded message at some point in the next few hours -- 24 hours.

And then he will have the job of uniting the United Kingdom at a time when there are such great fears and unease.

But I just can't -- I mean, look, I'm going to London tonight. Obviously, to be in London for the week between the death and funeral, and I just can't imagine what it's going to be like.

COOPER: Yes. We should also point out, you mentioned Prince William. He's now the duke of Cornwall, will be the prince of Wales.

Prince George, his son, becomes the second in line --


COOPER: -- as Max Foster pointed out a short time ago, second in line to the throne. And I believe was just starting school today or at least several of the children were. QUEST: Today.

COOPER: Which is why -- yes. Extraordinary first day of school.


COOPER: He's now second in line to the throne.

I want to bring in Kate Williams, CNN royal commentator and historian, Bidisha Mamata, British broadcaster and journalist, Sally Bedell Smith, historian and biographer, and Carolyn Harris, also a historian and author.

Bidisha, let me start with you.

Your thoughts in this extraordinary moment in world history?

BIDISHA MAMATA, BRITISH BROADCASTER & JOURNALIST: I feel an extraordinary sense of respectful reflection. For me, this was about nearly a century lived, an extraordinary time span, which has seen so many changes in world history, undergone with a sense of duty, intelligence, forethought, self-control.

The role of a monarch is to keep it all together. I don't believe that in the U.K., the monarchy is purely symbolic. I think the queen had a huge amount of power and respect behind the scenes.

And I would love to know how she used it. Because from the very first day, it could not have been easy.

She didn't run toward the crown with open arms. She did it because she used her mind, she calculated, and she thought, this is my duty, I must do this.

And she did it incredibly well. That's why you have people at all points on the political spectrum paying tributes to her.

It's an extraordinary feat to preside in a reign of decades upon decades with all sorts of things happening, including within your own family, weathering scandals and world events.

And coming to power at such a crucial time, the post-war period, when it was all about international community, picking up the rubble of war, and keeping things and communities and peoples together.

COOPER: Carolyn Harris, again, it's hard to imagine, after 70 years of one person on the throne, a change now at this time.

CAROLYN HARRIS, HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: It's very difficult to imagine anyone else in that role. And many people's feelings are similar to how people around the world felt on the passing on Queen Victoria in 1901, that she had lent her name to the era was the Victorian era.

And so, for many people, this is one of those historic moments where they take stock of just how much social and cultural and political change has taken place over such a long reign. The Queen came to the throne in 1952. She reigned for 70 years. And

she's become synonymous with the institution for many people.

COOPER: And, Carolyn, I mean, she came to the throne -- she was in Kenya when her father died, came back to Britain.

She came to the throne in such a different time, such a different country, and the power of Britain on the world stage was so different.

And yet, oversaw -- was a constant presence throughout all the changes that we have witnessed over the last 70 years.


HARRIS: Yes, the queen has overseen that transition from a British empire and dominions to a commonwealth of equal nations.

And she took her role as head of the commonwealth very seriously and became the most well-traveled monarch in history.