President Joe Biden issued a tribute to Queen Elizabeth after her death on Thursday, calling her “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity” who “defined an era” and left a mark on millions of people worldwide.
In a lengthy statement that described the queen as “more than a monarch,” Biden and first lady Jill Biden recalled meeting Elizabeth in 1982 and 2021, and praised her commitment to America’s alliance with Britain.
“She helped make our relationship special… she charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom,” the message read.
In seven decades on the throne, the Bidens said, the queen provided a “steady presence” for Britons and inspired “an enduring admiration” abroad as “the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection.”
The statement acknowledged that the crown has passed to Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son, who is now known as King Charles III.
“In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort,” the president and first lady said. “Today, the thoughts and prayers of people all across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief.”
Earlier in the day, U.S. officials had briefed Biden on the queen’s deteriorating medical condition, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. The president expressed his concern for the ailing monarch to British Prime Minister Liz Truss during a video conference of leaders from nations in the NATO military alliance, Kirby said.
As the second-longest serving monarch in history, Queen Elizabeth dealt with several generations of world leaders. Last year, Biden became the 13th U.S. president to meet with her.
After the queen’s death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff and scheduled a House vote on a bereavement resolution, according to a spokesperson.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also weighed in on the British ruler. In Thursday morning remarks, McConnell called her “a historic friend of the United States.”
“The Senate and the American people are watching the news regarding our friends in the United Kingdom and the health of their beloved Queen Elizabeth … as an exemplar of steady leadership and a beloved figure around the world,” McConnell said. “The decades of her reign have seen a profound deepening of the special relationship between our two countries that has literally changed the world.”
The queen called the relationship between the U.S. and its former colonial ruler a matter of “immense importance.”
In a 1976 visit to Philadelphia, she said America’s independence “should be celebrated as much in Britain as in America. … We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep.”
“The lesson was learnt,” she continued, saying the Revolutionary War encouraged her country to hew more closely to its fundamental charter of rights, the Magna Carta. Over the course of the queen’s reign, Britain withdrew from many of its former colonies around the world.