Biden pays tribute to queen as 'stateswoman of unmatched dignity'

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden paid tribute Thursday to the late Queen Elizabeth II as a "stateswoman of unmatched dignity," and said he looked forward to working with her son King Charles, noting their already "close friendship."

Biden ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff, and also visited the British embassy in Washington to sign a condolence book for the queen.

"Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States," Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement. "She helped make our relationship special."

At the embassy, Biden told staff the late queen was "a great lady" and that he was "so delighted I got to meet her."

Biden, 79, noted deep ties between the monarch and the United States, a former British colony.

"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,'" Biden said in his statement.

The five former living US presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump – together with their wives all issued statements Thursday, paying tribute to the late monarch.

Setting aside their political divisions, now as deep as ever in America, the former US leaders were unanimous in their respect for the queen, praising her historic legacy as well as her personal traits.

Obama hailed "a reign defined by grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic, defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation."

"She listened deeply, thought strategically and was responsible for considerable diplomatic successes," he said in a statement.

Trump said the queen left an "extraordinary legacy of peace and prosperity for Great Britain."

"Her leadership and enduring diplomacy secured and advanced alliances with the United States and countries around the world," Trump said on his social network, Truth Social.

The Clintons remembered the queen for "the kindness she showed us," while the Bushes noted that "tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency."

Biden said he first met the queen in 1982 when he was a US senator and last saw her in June 2021 during his first foreign trip as president – the 14th American president she had met.

"She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection," the Bidens said. "She, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service."

"In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with the king and the queen consort," they said, referring to Elizabeth's son and heir King Charles and his wife.

"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."

Flags will also be lowered on US Navy vessels, at military posts and naval stations, and at all American embassies and other facilities abroad, a proclamation from the White House said. -- AFP

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