WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden paid tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday evening with an unscheduled visit to the British Embassy, where he signed a book of condolences and offered his condolences to embassy staff .
“We mourn for all of you,” Biden said. “She was a great lady. I’m so glad I got to meet her.”
A photo of the Queen, who died on Thursday, sat on the table with the condolence book and a bouquet of flowers. First lady Jill Biden accompanied the president and also signed his name.
“Our hearts are with you,” the first lady said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Bidens issued a statement hailing the UK’s longest-serving monarch for leading with “grace, an unwavering commitment to duty and the matchless power of her example”.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch,” the statement read. “She defined an era.”
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Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday at Balmoral Castle, her estate in Scotland. She was 96 years old. His eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, 73, immediately became king upon his death.
Biden has known the Queen for three decades and met her three times, most recently in June 2021, when she greeted him and the First Lady at Windsor Castle during their visit to the UK to attend the summit of the Group of Seven leaders.
After that visit, Biden told reporters the queen was “very kind” and said he had invited her to the White House. Biden said the monarch reminds him of his late mother.
Biden ordered flags above the White House and other public buildings to be flown at half-mast until sunset on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
Former US presidents also fondly remembered meeting the Queen.
“At a time when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us onto the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity,” Barack Obama and Michelle Obama said in a statement. . “Time and time again we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and the way she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.”
The Obamas said they were impressed with the Queen’s legacy of “tireless and dignified public service. Our hearts go out to her family and to the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time.”
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Former President George W. Bush remembered Queen Elizabeth as “a woman of great intelligence, charm and wit”.
“Spending time at Buckingham Palace and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – are some of our fondest memories of the presidency,” he said. “Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark times with her faith in her people and her vision for a brighter future. Our world has benefited from her steadfast determination, and we are grateful to her for her decades of service in as sovereign.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton said that during her 70-year reign, the Queen led Britain through great transformations with “heartfelt grace, dignity and concern for the welfare of all her people” .
“Come sun or storm, she was a source of stability, serenity and strength,” the Clintons said.
Donald and Melania Trump said Queen Elizabeth left “a tremendous legacy of peace and prosperity for Britain” and that her leadership and diplomacy advanced alliances with the United States and countries around the world . However, the Queen will always be remembered for her loyalty to her country and her unwavering devotion to her fellow countrymen and women, the Trumps said.
“What a great and beautiful lady she was – there was no one like her!” said the Trumps.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
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