President and First Lady Jill Biden expressed their condolences at the British Embassy in Washington, where they made an impromptu stop to sign a book of condolence.
“We grieve for all of you. She was a great lady. “We are very happy that we met her,” the president told embassy staff.
The First Lady also presented a bouquet of flowers to the British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce, who received them at the embassy.
The president and first lady said earlier in a joint statement that the Queen – Britain’s longest-reigning monarch who ruled for seven decades – “has defined an era”.
“Today, the thoughts and prayers of people across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief,” the White House statement said. “We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who mourns not only the Queen, but her dear mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her legacy will be shown greatly in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world.”
American flags will be flown at the White House, other federal buildings, military installations and embassies abroad with half-staff “until the day of arrest,” according to President Biden’s announcement on the Queen’s death.
In their statement, the first couple described the Queen as “a constant presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who would not have known their country without her”.
“With the support of her beloved Prince Philip for 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II has always led by grace, steadfast adherence to duty, and unrivaled strength to her example. She has borne the dangers and privations of World War on the side of the British people and mobilized them through the devastation of a global pandemic to look forward to better days to come.” Follow the White House statement.
Biden added that the Queen “was a stateswoman of unparalleled dignity and fortitude who deepened the fundamental alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.”
“You have helped make our relationship special,” the statement said, referring to the “special relationship” between the UK and the US – a term coined by Winston Churchill. The Bidens also said they look forward to continuing a “close friendship” with King Charles III and consort of the Queen.
The Bidens remember their time together, writing that they first met Queen Elizabeth in 1982 as part of a Senate delegation that traveled to the United Kingdom.
White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre said earlier on Thursday that Biden and the Queen last spoke and got to know each other during the president’s visit to the United Kingdom in June 2021.
World leaders mourn
my condolences from Leaders across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world are flocking to news of the Queen’s death.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Queen was “liked and admired” by the people of Scotland.
“By all accounts, Her Majesty has scarcely been happier than when she was here in Scotland with her beloved Balmoral,” continued Sturgeon, pointing to the castle in which the Queen died.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said so was the Queen “An enduring presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever be an important part of our country’s history.”
“When we look back at her life and her many decades of rule, Canadians will always remember and cherish Her Majesty’s wisdom, compassion and warmth,” he continued.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wrote in a statement that the Queen had lived a “long life dedicated to duty, family, faith and service,” noting that “Her Majesty clearly holds a special place in her heart for Australia.” As head of state, the Queen has visited Australia 16 times.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern remembered the Queen in a posthumous national address saying she came to define “the concepts of service, philanthropy and consistency”.
Ardern also announced that New Zealand will be transitioning into a period of official mourning. Flags will be flown to half of the staff. Preparations are underway for a state memorial, which will take place after the Queen’s state funeral in the United Kingdom.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement that he had “memorable meetings” with the Queen, writing: “During one of the meetings, she showed me the handkerchief Mahatma Gandhi had given her at her wedding. I will always cherish this gesture.”
Taoiseach of Ireland Michelle Martin called her passing “the end of an era”, saying “her dedication to duty and public service is self-evident and her wisdom and experience is truly unique”.
Pope Francis praised the queen, calling her “a firm witness to faith in Jesus Christ” in an open letter to the new king.
I commend her noble soul for the mercy of our Heavenly Father, I assure Your Majesty, my prayers that Almighty God will sustain you with his unfailing grace as you now assume your high responsibilities as King.
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that the Queen “embodied the continuity and unity of the British nation for more than 70 years. I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted Queen who made a lasting impression on her country and on her century.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, “It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the people, we extend our deepest condolences to the RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Queen “was a role model and an inspiration to millions, here also in Germany. Her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II will remain unforgettable. She will be missed, not least by her wonderful sense of humour.”
“The most important events in the modern history of the United Kingdom are closely linked to Her Majesty’s name,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement.
“For many decades, Elizabeth II enjoyed the right to love and respect her subjects, as well as power on the world stage,” Putin continued. “I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this huge and irreparable loss.”
Condolences were received from dozens of other countries, from Panama to Pakistan.
Former US presidents send their condolences
Previous US presidents also offered their condolences after her death.
George W. Bush, who welcomed the Queen to the United States during his time in office, recalled spending time at Buckingham Palace and getting to know her famous dogs.
“Spending time at Buckingham Palace, having tea with Her Majesty – and her dogs – is one of our fondest memories of the presidency,” Bush wrote. “Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision of a brighter tomorrow. Our world has benefited from her unwavering determination, and we are grateful for her decades of service as Sovereign.”
Donald and Melania Trump wrote in a statement that “her enduring leadership and diplomacy has secured and advanced alliances with the United States and the nations of the world. However, she will always be remembered for her devotion to her country and unwavering devotion to her fellow citizens and women.”
“(We) always cherished our time with the Queen, and we will never forget Her Majesty’s gracious friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humour. What a great and beautiful lady–there was no one like her!” Trump wrote.
The Obama family remembered the Queen as a leader who played her “role”.
“Her Majesty the Queen was only 25 years old when she took on the formidable task of helping one of the world’s greatest democracies. And in the decades that followed, she would continue to be a Queen – with a rule defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic that defies the odds and expectations placed upon women of her generation.
Bill and Hillary Clinton marked death by remembering it as a person of “grace, dignity, and genuine care for the welfare of all its members”.
This is an urgent story and will be updated.
Dan Merica, Sam Fossum, Kevin Liptak, Jeff Zelini, Nicola Rotolo, Niamh Kennedy, Xiaovei Shaw, Angus Watson, Ulyana Pavlova and Philip Wang contributed to this report.
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