Liz Truss leads tributes to Queen Elizabeth, 'the rock on which our country was built'

World leaders and ministers praise monarch's legacy after Buckingham Palace confirms the Queen has died aged 96
Truss was appointed as the new PM by the Queen at Balmoral only this week. Photo: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

By John Johnston

08 Sep 2022

Prime minister Liz Truss has led tributes from British politicians and world leaders to Queen Elizabeth II, who has died aged 96.

Truss, who spoke outside Downing Street shortly after the announcement, said the Queen was “the rock on which our country was built”.

Buckingham Palace announced the death of the Queen early this evening following reports that her health had deteriorated. 

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” a statement from the Royal Family said. 

“The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Speaking just days after she was formally appointed as the new prime minister by the Queen at Balmoral, Truss described the monarch's death as "a huge shock to the nation and to the world".

"Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built," she said. 

“Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.

“She ascended the throne just after the Second World War.

“She championed the development of the Commonwealth – from a small group of seven countries to a family of 56 nations spanning every continent of the world.

“We are now a modern, thriving, dynamic nation. Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.

“She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England, added: "As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society."

Party leaders

Labour leader Keir Starmer also paid tribute to a “remarkable sovereign”.

“It is a deep, private loss for the Royal Family and all our thoughts are with them at this time. The nation shares in their grief,” he said.

“We will always treasure Queen Elizabeth II’s life of service and devotion to our nation and the Commonwealth; our longest-serving and greatest monarch.

“Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon. As Britain changed rapidly around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world."

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey added his own tribute, saying: "We mourn the loss of a great monarch who served our country faithfully all her life.

"The Queen was an ever-fixed mark in our lives. She represented duty and courage, warmth and compassion."

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon saying it was a “profoundly sad moment for the UK, the Commonwealth and the world”.

“Her life was one of extraordinary dedication and service,” she said.

“On behalf of the people of Scotland, I convey my deepest condolences to the King and the Royal Family.”

Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, said the news had brought “great sadness” and that her death would be mourned across the country.

“We pay tribute to Her Majesty's dedication and selfless devotion. She will be sorely missed by the many organisations for which she was patron or president. We offer our sincere condolences to her children and their families on this sad occasion,” he said.

Leaders of Northern Ireland's two main parties also shared tributes. 

Michelle O'Neill, Northern Ireland's leader of Sinn Fein, which was recently elected as the largest party in the region, described her "deep regret" of hearing the Queen had died.

"The British people will miss the leadership she gave as monarch," she said. 

"I wish to especially acknowledge the profound sorrow of our neighbours from within the unionist community who will feel her loss deeply.

"Personally, I am grateful for Queen Elizabeth’s significant contribution and determined efforts to advancing peace and reconciliation between our two islands.

"Throughout the peace process she led by example in building relationships with those of us who are Irish, and who share a different political allegiance and aspirations to herself and her government. Having met Queen Elizabeth on a number of occasions alongside my colleague, the late Martin McGuinness, I appreciated both her warmth and courtesy."

Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP described the Queen as "a steadfast and unshakeable head of state for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth".

He added: "Her gracious approach has been a constant throughout our lives.

"Today we pray for the Royal Family as they mourn the passing of a mother, grand-mother and great-grand-mother.”

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle said the death of the Queen was a “terrible loss for us all”.

“For all of us, the Queen has been a constant presence in our lives – as familiar as a member of the family, yet one who has exercised a calm and steadying influence over our country,” he said.

“Most of us have never known a time when she was not there. Her death is not only a tragedy for the Royal family, but a terrible loss for us all.”

Former prime ministers

Veteran political figures also paid tribute to the Queen, with former prime minister Tony Blair saying she was “not only respected but loved”.

He added: “Respected because of the qualities of duty, decency, integrity and fidelity which she embodied. And loved because of the love and affection she bestowed on us."

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, who visited the Queen at Balmoral earlier this week to formally offer his resignation, said it was the country's “saddest day”.

"This is our country's saddest day because she had a unique and simple power to make us happy. That is why we loved her. That is why we grieve for Elizabeth the Great, the longest serving and in many ways the finest monarch in our history.”

He added: “Though our voices may still be choked with sadness we can say with confidence the words not heard in this country for more than seven decades. God save the King."

Former Conservative prime minister David Cameron said: “No matter how prepared one could be for this day, there are no words that can adequately express the sense of loss our nation will feel.

“Queen Elizabeth has been the constant in all our lives over the past 70 years. As our longest serving monarch, her remarkable reign has lasted, for mot people, our entire lives – we know nothing else.”

Sharing his own experience of his meetings with the Queen, he added: “I was very proud to have served as Queen Elizabeth’s twelfth prime minister. It was, each week, a privilege to have the almost unique ability to sit down, in private, with Queen Elizabeth and to be able to call on her sage advice and wise counsel.

“It is a huge advantage of the British system that prime ministers have this special access, and I was fortunate to have been able to call on the knowledge of the world’s greatest public servant and, indeed, the world’s most experienced diplomat.”

Former Conservative prime minister John Major said the country had “lost someone very precious to us and, as we mourn, we should be grateful that we were blessed with such an example of duty and leadership for so very many years”.

Fellow former prime minister Theresa May said it was the "honour of her life" to serve under the Queen.

"Her Majesty witnessed tremendous change, moving adroitly with the times but always providing stability and reassurance," she said. "She was our constant throughout this great Elizabethan era.”

World leaders

News of her death also prompted tributes from other world leaders, with France’s president Emmanuel Macron saying the Queen embodied the UK’s “continuity and unity for over 70 years”.

“I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted Queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century,” he said.

President of the United States Joe Biden said the Queen had “defined an era”.

“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generation of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her,” he said in a statement.

“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 of her platinum jubilee on their phones. And she, is turn, dedicated her whole life to their service.”

Former US President Barack Obama said the Queen had “meant a great deal” to him and his wife, Michelle.

He added: “Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brough her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.”

Fellow former US President Bill Clinton said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the Royal Family and all the people Her Majesty inspired throughout her lifetime of service."

And President Trump added: "Queen Elizabeth’s historic and remarkable reign left a tremendous 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."

Ukrainian President Zelensky expressed condolences on behalf of the people of his country, which is currently subject to a brutal invasion by Russia. 

"We extend sincere condolences to the [Royal Family], the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with you."

Other world leaders have also expressed their sadness over the news, with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau saying the announcement had been met with the “heaviest of hearts”.

Trudeau said: “She was a constant presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history."

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi added the Queen had been a “major player in world history” during her reign.

He said she had represented the country with “balance, wisdom, respect for institutions and democracy”.

“She has been the most beloved symbol of her country and has garnered respect, affection and warm feelings everywhere,” he said. “She ensured stability in times of crisis and kept the value of tradition alive in a society in constant and profound evolution.”

Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz also paid tribute to the Queen and her role in reconciliation between the two countries following the Second World War.

“She was a role model and inspiration for millions, also here in Germany,” he said. “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."

European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyan offered her heartfelt condolences to the British people.

“It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” she said. “She was the world’s longest serving Head of State and one of the most respected personalities worldwide.”

Cabinet ministers

Senior cabinet ministers have also paid tribute to the Queen following the announcement with new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng saying she was "the leading public servant of our time". 

He added: "An incredible life lived in service to the British people and the Commonwealth. God Save the King."

Deputy prime minister Therese Coffey said: “Today, I mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Earlier this year the nation celebrated her Platinum Jubilee with much love and joy, recognising her decades of service.

“My thoughts and prayers are with His Majesty King Charles III and all the Royal Family.”

John Johnston is a reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared

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