The United States mourned the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch Thursday, as presidents and politicians acknowledged the singular life and achievements of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era. In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons,” President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement Thursday.
Buckingham Palace announced Thursday afternoon that the 96-year-old monarch had passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles, now king.
Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, also remembered the queen in a statement Thursday.
“Like so many, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service,” they said.
During the queen’s 70-year reign, she worked with 14 U.S. presidents, starting with Harry S. Truman. She was welcomed in the United States on official visits multiple times, including a visit in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. bicentennial; in 1991. when she addressed a joint session of Congress; and in 2007, when she visited Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. It was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
“Queen Elizabeth offered a master class in grace and strength, power and poise. Her extraordinary life and leadership will continue to inspire young women and girls in public service, now and for generations to come,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
“Personally, it was an honor to be on the floor of the House during her historic address to the Congress in 1991 and to welcome her as speaker on her important visit to the United States in 2007, which deepened the special relationship between our nations,” Pelosi added.
The House of Representatives will pass a bereavement resolution honoring the queen next Tuesday. Pelosi ordered that flags over the U.S. Capitol be flown at half-staff for the monarch’s passing.
“For 70 long years, from the aftermath of World War II well into the 21st century, across 15 different prime ministers, through great triumphs and great challenges, the queen’s steady leadership safeguarded the land she loved. Despite spending nearly three-quarters of a century as one of the most famous and admired individuals on the planet, the queen made sure her reign was never really about herself,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
“The queen embodied the essence of British leadership for over seven decades and leaves a proud legacy of service to her people and of steadfast friendship and respect for the United States,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said in a statement Thursday.
Many members of Congress had personally met the queen and remembered her fondly in statements on Thursday.
“I remember well her visit to San Francisco in 1983 when I was mayor,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. “I spent time with the queen at the Davies Symphony Hall and found her to be gracious and kind, a wonderful representative of her nation. Queen Elizabeth will be fondly remembered and missed by many, and my thoughts are with her family and the people of the U.K.”
The queen’s work on a global scale was also applauded in New York at the United Nations.
“Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonization of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth,” Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement.
“Queen Elizabeth II was a good friend of the United Nations, and visited our New York Headquarters twice, more than fifty years apart. She was deeply committed to many charitable and environmental causes and spoke movingly to delegates at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.”