‘A stalwart’: World mourns Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II
LONDON (AP) — Condolences poured in from around the world Thursday after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who became a global icon of calmness and fortitude through decades of political upheaval and social changes at home and abroad.
Elizabeth, who had been on the throne since 1952, when the nation was still rebuilding from the destruction of World War II, died Thursday afternoon at age 96 at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland.
Here are some reactions to her death:
In India, once a British colony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Elizabeth “a stalwart of our times.”
“She personified dignity and decency in public life,” Modi tweeted.
Royalty across Europe mourned Elizabeth’s death.
Her life “set an example for all of us and will remain as a solid and valuable legacy for future generations,” Spanish King Felipe VI said in a telegram sent to her eldest son, now known as King Charles III.
“We will miss Her dearly,” he wrote, speaking for himself and his wife.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden called her “a constant presence, not only in British society but internationally.”
In Norway, King Harald said that for “nearly a century, Her Majesty devoted her life to the service of the Commonwealth, following the British people through good days and bad, in times of happiness and sorrow.”
President Joe Biden was informed of her death by senior advisers during a meeting in the Oval Office.
Elizabeth, who had met more than a dozen American presidents, “was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” he and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement, saying she “she defined an era.”
They later went to the British Embassy to offer condolences. “We mourn for all of you. She was a great lady,” Biden could be heard telling embassy staff.
France, Britain’s historic rival and contemporary ally, honored Elizabeth with flags at the presidential palace and public buildings ordered lowered to half-staff Friday.
President Emmanuel Macron hailed her “immutable moral authority” and her intimate knowledge of French.
He said no other foreign sovereign had visited the presidential palace more often than Elizabeth, who knew all eight presidents of contemporary France.
“The woman who stood alongside the giants of the 20th century on the path of history has left to join them,” Macron said in a statement.
Mourners also gathered at the British Embassy in Paris.
“She’s been a constant in my life,” said 70-year-old Robert Miller, a London resident in Paris for a conference.
“Whilst I know she was very old, she was still doing her work until yesterday,” he said. “Like anybody’s mother, you know, even if you think things are going well, at some point the end of an era comes, and you’re very sad. “
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to King Charles III.
“For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage. I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss.”
At the United Nations, the Security Council stood in silent tribute at the start of a meeting on Ukraine. France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere, the council president, sent condolences on behalf of its 15 members.
Queen Elizabeth II presided “over a period of historic changes both for her country and the world,” he said. “Her life was devoted to the service of her country.”
Elizabeth was mourned across the 54-nation Commonwealth, a group built around Britain and its former colonies.
In Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recalled Elizabeth’s visits to his country and praised “the friendliness, elegance, style and sheer joy she brought to the performance of her duties.”
“We shall miss her inspiring presence, her calm, her steadiness, and, above all, her great love and belief in the higher purpose of the Commonwealth of Nations, and in its capacity to be a force for good in our world,” he said in a statement.
“For most Canadians, we have known no other sovereign,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. He called her “a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”
“I’m having trouble believing that my last sit-down with her was my last,” Trudeau said later. “I will so miss those chats.”
Elizabeth, who was Canada’s head of state, visited the country 22 times as monarch.
The queen’s death comes as a growing number of British territories in the Caribbean seek to replace the monarch with their own heads of state amid demands that Britain apologize for its colonial-era abuses and award its former colonies slavery reparations.
Still, Caribbean leaders from Jamaica to Bermuda and beyond mourned her death.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that for many years she visited the island every decade.
“Undoubtedly, she formed a special bond with the people of Jamaica,” he said. “We are saddened that we will not see her light again, but we will remember her historic reign.”
Bermuda Premier David Burt noted that her reign “has spanned decades of such immense change for the United Kingdom and the world.”
Elton John said in a tweet that she was “an inspiring presence to be around, and lead the country through some of our greatest, and darkest, moments.”
The acclaimed musician reworked his hit “Candle in the Wind” as a tribute to Princess Diana when she died unexpectedly in 1997.
All the living former U.S. presidents issued statements soon after Elizabeth’s death.
Donald Trump said on his social media platform that Elizabeth “will always be remembered for her faithfulness to her country and her unwavering devotion to her fellow countrymen and women.”
“Melania and I will always cherish our time together with the queen, and never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humor. What a grand and beautiful lady she was - there was nobody like her!”
Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said she made “the role of Queen her own — with a reign defined by grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic, defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation.”
He said she welcomed him and his wife — the first Black American president and first lady — to the world stage “with open arms and extraordinary generosity” and said they were struck by her ability to put people at ease.
George W. Bush called her “a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit.”
“Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency,” he said in a statement.
Bill Clinton said he and his wife, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joined people around the world “in giving thanks for her extraordinary life.”
“Throughout her remarkable 70-year reign, she led Britain through great transformations with unfailing grace, dignity, and genuine care for the welfare of all its people. In sunshine or storm, she was a source of stability, serenity, and strength,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
Jimmy Carter said in a statement that Elizabeth’s “dignity, graciousness and sense of duty have been an inspiration and we join the millions around the world in mourning a remarkable leader.”
In Washington, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine recalled how Elizabeth had joked with him when she visited Virginia in 2007 while he was governor.
He asked the queen’s security detail whether he should offer the queen his arm while going up a steep set of Capitol steps. They assured him she’d be fine. But when she arrived a few weeks later, she looked at him and deadpanned, “they expect me to go up this?”
Kaine was momentarily flustered.
“She was just pulling my leg. She just walked up just as fast as can be,” Kaine said.
The queen’s visit came not long after a gunman at a Virginia university, Virginia Tech, killed dozens of people. The queen met with people from the university and well as grieving family members.
“That really meant a lot,” Kaine said.
“She lived history, she made history. And with her passing, she leaves a magnificent, inspirational legacy,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said.
Praise even came from the fictional Paddington Bear, the beloved British children’s book character. The bear shared tea with the queen in a video shown in June during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
“Thank you Ma’am, for everything,” said a statement Thursday on the Paddington Bear Twitter feed.
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