President Biden and first lady Jill Biden honored Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, calling her “a steadying presence” and “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity” following her death.
“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. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth,” Biden said in a statement.
The queen died at the age of 96, ending the longest reign for a British head of state in history that included the administrations of 14 U.S. presidents. She died at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish estate, Buckingham Palace announced.
Biden had been briefed on the queen’s health earlier on Thursday and was receiving regular updates about her condition. The Bidens first met the queen in 1982 while on a Senate delegation trip to the U.K. and met with her in June 2021 when she hosted them during an overseas trip.
Biden, in his statement, commented that she deepened the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K.
“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special,” he said.
“She helped Americans commemorate both the anniversary of the founding of Jamestown and the bicentennial of our independence. And 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’,” he added.
Biden said he and the first lady look forward to a close relationship with the new king and queen consort and sent his condolences to their whole family. He spoke with British Prime Minister Liz Truss during a video call with other leaders earlier on Thursday and told her he was thinking of the queen.
“Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world,” he said in his statement.
Biden noted that the queen led the U.K. through the COVID-19 pandemic and spoke about the personal connection people felt with her during her life of service.
“She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection — whether they heard her on the radio as a young princess speaking to the children of the United Kingdom, or gathered around their televisions for her coronation, or watched her final Christmas speech or her Platinum Jubilee on their phones,” he said.
“And she, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service,” he added.