Queen Elizabeth II: World leaders remember a 'kind-hearted Queen'

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By Tiffany Wertheimer
BBC News

World leaders and dignitaries have been paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who has died at the age of 96.
They have honoured her deep sense of duty and her resilience, as well as the Queen's sense of humour and kindness.
France's Emmanuel Macron led the tributes, remembering "a kind-hearted queen" who was "a friend of France".
US President Joe Biden first met Her Majesty 40 years ago and described her as "more than a monarch – she defined an era".
Remembering his visit to the UK in 2021 as president, Mr Biden said "she charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom".
"Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity constancy who deepened the bedrock of the Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special," Mr Biden added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered "sincere sympathies to the British government and people" following the Queen's death, adding: "Her passing is a great loss to the British people."
Canada – where Queen Elizabeth was head of state – has seen 12 prime ministers during her reign.
An emotional Justin Trudeau – who has known the Queen for decades, first meeting her as a child when his father was prime minister – said she had "an obvious deep and abiding love for Canadians".
"In a complicated world, her steady grace and resolve brought comfort to us all," the prime minister said, adding that he would miss their "chats" where she was "thoughtful, wise, curious, helpful, funny and so much more".
"She was one of my favourite people in the world, and I will miss her so," he said, holding back tears.
Flags have been lowered to half-staff around the world – including at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.
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".
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, now the world's only reigning female monarch, wrote to King Charles to express her condolences.
"She was a towering figure among the European monarchs and great inspiration to us all," she wrote.
She called the Queen's 70-year reign in difficult and positive times an "unprecedented and remarkable achievement".
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."
Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia, who have long called Queen Elizabeth Aunt Lilibet said they will "miss her dearly".
And Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde said she was "an extraordinary personality… who, throughout her reign, showed dignity, courage and devotion".
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz paid tribute to the Queen's "wonderful humour" and said in a statement that "her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War Two will remain unforgotten".
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his "memorable meetings" with the monarch during two UK visits.
"I will never forget her warmth and kindness," he tweeted. "During one of the meetings, she showed me the handkerchief Mahatma Gandhi gifted her on her wedding. I will always cherish that gesture."
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".
As monarch for seven decades, Queen Elizabeth lived through times of extraordinary change, and this was reflected in several tributes.
Mr Macron observed that she "embodied the British nation's continuity and unity for over 70 years" and former US President Barack Obama observed that she lived "through periods of prosperity and stagnation – from the Moon landing to the fall of the Berlin Wall".
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.
Ireland's Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, spoke of her reign as one of "historic duration" and described the Queen's passing as "the end of an era".
"Her dedication to duty and public service were self-evident and her wisdom and experience truly unique," Mr Martin said in a statement. He also recalled her "many gracious gestures and warm remarks" during a state visit to Ireland in 2011.
António Guterres, the UN's secretary-general, 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".
Queen Elizabeth visited Australia – another Commonwealth nation where she was head of state – 16 times, the only reigning monarch to head down under.
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's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she was woken to the news of the monarch's death by a police officer shining a torch into her bedroom at 04:50 to wake her up.
"She was extraordinary… The last days of the Queen's life captures who she was in so many ways, working to the very end on behalf of the people she loved," Ms Ardern said.
Queen Elizabeth II met 13 US presidents – beginning with Dwight D Eisenhower- during her reign.
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," Mr Obama, who met the Queen on several occasions, said in a statement.
Donald Trump said he would "never forget Her Majesty's generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humour".
And another 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".
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".
While the Queen did not visit Israel, Princes Charles, Edward, William and the late Prince Philip – whose mother is buried in Jerusalem – did.
"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".
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that it was with "deep sadness" that he learned of "this irreparable loss".
And Russian leader Vladimir Putin who met the Queen several times and once reportedly kept her waiting for 14 minutes, 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," Mr 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 currently has heavy economic sanctions imposed on it by Western nations, including the UK, because of its invasion of Ukraine.
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.
Kenya, a former British colony that became independent in 1963, was a very special place for the monarch. For a start, it was where she became Queen. The young princess, then just 25 years old, was on holiday there when her father, King George VI, died in his sleep in 1952.
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."
And 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".
Her first trip to Ghana, also a former British colony, was controversial and there were concerns for the monarch's safety. Five days earlier, bombs had gone off in the capital, Accra, but the Queen was not deterred, in part because she had already cancelled a previous visit when she became pregnant with Prince Andrew.
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