World leaders are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch who died on Thursday at the age of 96.
The loss quickly reverberated around the globe, particularly for the 15 Commonwealth realms, like Canada, for which the queen served as head of state.
“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. “She was a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”
The queen “died peacefully” at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday evening local time.
The announcement came hours after the palace said her doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health,” placing her under medical supervision as her family canceled their public engagements and traveled to the castle.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. “I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.”
“She was a role model and inspiration for millions, also here in Germany,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “Her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II will remain unforgotten. She will be missed, not least her wonderful humour.”
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a joint statement that the queen “defined an era,” noting that they first met Elizabeth in 1982 during a Senate delegation trip to the United Kingdom.
After coming to the White House, Biden became the 13th sitting U.S. president Elizabeth met over seven decades.
“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her,” the first couple said.
“An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth,” the statement continued. “The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “deeply saddened” by the queen’s passing.
The U.K. is one of the military alliance’s 12 founding members, and the queen met with leaders during a NATO summit hosted in London in late 2019.
“Over more than 70 years, she exemplified selfless leadership and public service,” Stoltenberg wrote. “My deepest condolences to the Royal Family, to our #NATO Allies the United Kingdom and Canada, and to the people of the Commonwealth.
The queen’s reign also saw changes to Britain’s overseas territorial holdings, which declined from more than 70 when Elizabeth became queen in 1952 to 14 at the time of her death, after Barbados removed Elizabeth as the country’s head of state in December.
“My thoughts and those of all Barbadians are with the British people and the Royal Family during this most difficult period,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said. “Her Majesty The Queen holds a special place in our hearts and we in Barbados are wishing her the best and hoping for Her Majesty’s complete recovery.”
The U.K. government also both joined and left the European Union during the queen’s reign, and many leaders of the union and its member nations on Thursday expressed their gratitude for her service.
“She witnessed war and reconciliation in Europe and beyond, and deep transformations of our planet and societies,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “She was a beacon of continuity throughout these changes, never ceasing to display a calmness and dedication that gave strength to many. May she rest in peace.”
“Our thoughts are with the royal family and all those who mourn Queen Elizabeth II in the UK and worldwide,” wrote European Council President Charles Michel. “Once called Elizabeth the Steadfast, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment.”