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World leaders pay tribute to ‘kind-hearted Queen’

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Washington/London: Leaders from around the world have paid tribute to the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II on her demise, with some of them recalling their association with the “kind-hearted” British monarch who exhibited a “timeless decency and an enduring calm.”

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after reigning for 70 years. She was 96.

US President Joe Biden spoke fondly of their first meeting in 1982 and more recently when she hosted him during an overseas trip in 2021.

“She charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom. She stood in solidarity with the United States during our darkest days after 9/11, when she poignantly reminded us that, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’.”

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute, saying the Queen was a “kind-hearted” monarch and a “friend of France”.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years. I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century,” Macron said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the Queen as a “role model and inspiration for millions”.

He praised her role in repairing relations between the UK and Germany after “the horrors of World War II”.

She will be missed, not least her wonderful humour, he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Queen Elizabeth was “one of his favourite people in the world”.

“She was a constant presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history. I will miss her so,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese noted that many had never known a world without her.

“Though the noise and tumult of the years, she embodied and exhibited a timeless decency and an enduring calm,” he said in a statement.

“She celebrated our good times, she stood with us in the bad. Happy and glorious, but steadfast too.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the Queen as an “extraordinary” person.

“She was extraordinary… The last days of the Queen’s life capture who she was in so many ways, working to the very end on behalf of the people she loved,” Ardern said.

Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, also acknowledged the enormous change the Queen saw throughout her reign, but said that throughout this, she “remained an icon of stable, responsible leadership and a beacon of morality, humanity and patriotism”.

“Queen Elizabeth was a historic figure: she lived history, she made history, and with her passing, she leaves a magnificent, inspirational legacy,” President Herzog wrote.

King Abdullah II of Jordan said his country “mourns the passing of an iconic leader”. He said the Queen, who visited Jordan in 1984, was “a beacon of wisdom and principled leadership…a partner for Jordan and a dear family friend”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met the Queen several times, sent his “deepest condolences” to King Charles III.

“The most important events in the recent history of the United Kingdom are inextricably linked with the name of Her Majesty,” Putin wrote in a statement. “For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage.”

Russia is currently under heavy economic sanctions imposed on it by Western nations, including the UK, because of its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that it was with “deep sadness” that he learned of “this irreparable loss”.

African leaders also shared tributes for Queen Elizabeth – who knew many of them well and, as the head of the Commonwealth, was sympathetic to their cause.

Kenyan President-elect William Ruto praised her “historic legacy” and said Kenyans would “miss the cordial ties she enjoyed” with the country.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, which is one of the newest nations to join the Commonwealth, said: “The Queen was a great friend of Africa and Africa showed her affection in return.”

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted that his country had fond memories of the two visits the Queen made, remarking on “her friendliness, elegance, style and sheer joy she brought to the performance of her duties”.

Former US president Barack Obama said the Queen had “captivated the world” with a “reign defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic”.

“Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humour and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance,” Obama, who met the Queen on several occasions, said in a statement.

Another former US president Donald Trump said he would “never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humour”.

“What a grand and beautiful lady she was – there was nobody like her!” he wrote on his online platform, Truth Social.

Former president George W Bush reflected fondly on the time he spent having tea with Her Majesty and her corgis, describing her “great intellect, charm and wit”.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Queen’s “empathy and ability to connect with every passing generation, while remaining rooted in the tradition that truly mattered to her, was an example of true leadership”.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands – who is Queen Elizabeth’s fifth cousin – said he and Queen Maxima remembered the “steadfast and wise” monarch with “deep respect and great affection”.

Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, also a distant relative to Her Majesty, said: “She has always been dear to my family and a precious link in our shared family history.”

Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde said she was “an extraordinary personality… who, throughout her reign, showed dignity, courage and devotion”.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent their condolences, with the king describing her as “a role model for leadership that will be immortalised in history”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his “deep sorrow”. “The death of the queen, who led Britain through turbulent times in the world, is a great loss not only for the British people but also the international community,” he told reporters.

Irish President Michael D Higgins honoured the Queen’s “extraordinary sense of duty”, which he said would “hold a unique place in British history”.

“Her reign of 70 years encompassed periods of enormous change, during which she represented a remarkable source of reassurance to the British people,” he said in a lengthy statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Queen Elizabeth was “a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonisation of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth”.

In a statement, he paid tribute to “her unwavering, lifelong dedication to serving her people. The world will long remember her devotion and leadership”.

“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a symbol of stability and endurance, and she will be greatly missed. My heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the UK and the Commonwealth,” Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted.

He instructed the Ministry of Public Administration & Home Affairs that the national flag in all Public buildings be flown at half mast.

The period of National Mourning will be announced subsequently.

The Queen visited Sri Lanka twice during her reign – 1954 and 1981.

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