The world pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

LONDON — The Thursday death of Queen Elizabeth II has prompted an outpouring of condolences from world leaders.

Presidents, prime ministers and other monarchs have all paid tribute to the Queen, Britain’s longest-serving monarch. At 96, she remains one of the most recognizable people in the world, her image a symbol of the nation both at home and abroad.

Her personality remained an enigma to many of her subjects, but she was famous for her sense of duty and took part in hundreds of public engagements a year.

Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled the UK for 70 years, dies aged 96

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that he would never forget the Queen’s “warmth and kindness”.

“During one of the meetings, she showed me the handkerchief that Mahatma Gandhi gave her at his wedding,” he said. “I will always cherish this gesture.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, also on Twitter, said he would “remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who left a lasting impression on her country and her century”.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres mourned her loss in a statement, saying she was a “reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonization of Africa and Asia and the ‘Evolution of the Commonwealth’.

The Commonwealth is a group of states that includes the United Kingdom and many of its former territories.

In a statement to the new king, Charles III, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa “expressed his deep and heartfelt condolences” for the Queen’s death.

“Her Majesty was an extraordinary, world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life. His life and legacy will be remembered by many around the world,” Ramaphosa said.

Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to the Queen, said her legacy would be one of “stability and continuity” and that thanks to her long stewardship, Britain has a monarchy “recognized around the world”.

Elizabeth served for 70 years and for most Britons she was the only monarch they had ever known.

Robert Hardman, author of ‘Queen of the World’, said she may be remembered in the pantheon of British monarchs as the first to overturn 1,000 years of accepted royal practice that the work of a monarch is to consolidate, conquer or expand a territory.

In the Queen’s case, she ascended the throne “with the specific expectation that she would give things back, step back, reduce Britain’s footprint,” Hardman said. “It’s been a managed decline exercise of a lifetime.”

She presided over the dramatic decline of the British Empire and during her reign several countries deposed the Queen as head of state. Others, such as Australia and Jamaica, have actively debated her replacement as sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth II: A visual timeline of her 70 years on the throne

In Jamaica, a Commonwealth realm, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, said the country was praying for Elizabeth’s family “and the people of the United Kingdom, as they mourned the loss of their beloved queen and matriarch”.

Earlier this year, when Prince William and his wife, Catherine, visited Jamaica, they were met with protests against the legacy of colonialism and calls for reparations from Britain for its involvement in the slave trade.

Elizabeth was the first British sovereign to visit Australia, another Commonwealth realm where around 1 million people welcomed her to Sydney during her first royal tour with Prince Philip in 1954.

“She celebrated our good times, she supported us in the bad times,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins also paid tribute to “his warm and enduring friendship” in a statement and described his historic visit in 2011 as “pivotal in laying a solid foundation for genuine and ethical understanding between our peoples”.

Hugo Vickers, a royal biographer, said the Queen ‘brought an atmosphere of calm to a very rapidly changing world’ and was an ‘extraordinary peacemaker’.

Amanda Coletta contributed reporting from Toronto.

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