President Joe Biden visited the British embassy on Thursday evening to sign a register of condolences for Queen Elizabeth II, hours after Buckingham Palace announced the death of the long-serving British monarch.
“She was a wonderful lady,” he said after the signing, with First Lady Jill by his side. “We’re so happy to meet her.”
He spoke briefly with the British diplomatic staff before attending a political event.
The president tore his agenda after the death of the 96-year-old monarch. He canceled a speech about COVID-19 vaccines and ordered flags for half-staff.
In a statement, he paid tribute to the Queen, praising the stability and fortitude she brought to Britain and an uncertain world.
And he said he was ready to build on his relationship with King Charles, who will now ascend the British throne.
“In a world of constant change, she has been a stable presence and a source of comfort and pride to generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her,” Biden said.
“A lasting admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people in the Commonwealth.”
The White House said President Joe Biden had met the Queen three times, most recently for tea with First Lady Jilly Biden at Windsor Castle in 2021, where they inspected a guard of honor.
Biden paid tribute to the Queen after his death was announced Thursday, saying: “In a world of constant change, she has been a stable presence and a source of comfort and pride to generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. ‘
During that trip to the UK, the Bidens also met the Queen in Cornwall at a reception for the G7 world leaders. The president said he first met the queen in 1982 as a senator
The president issued a proclamation on Thursday afternoon paying tribute to the Queen and ordering that the American flag be flown at half-mast in the White House and other public buildings.
Biden, who first met the Queen as a senator in 1982, was told of her death during a meeting in the Oval Office.
He issued a statement paying tribute and ordering flags to be flown at half-mast.
Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unparalleled dignity and fortitude who deepened the basic alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“She helped make our relationship special,” he said.
Biden was supposed to make comments about COVID-19 vaccines at the White House.
But the event was canceled minutes after Buckingham Palace announced the Queen’s death.
It now means Biden will renew his relationship with Charles I met last year in Glasgow, on the sidelines of a major United Nations climate conference. Reports said they had a connection to their shared concern for the environment.
“Over the coming years, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort,” said Biden.
“Today the thoughts and prayers of people across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief.
Prince Charles met Biden at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland last year. “In the coming years, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort,” Biden said in his statement in tribute to the Queen.
Full Text of President Joe Biden’s Proclamation on the Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era.
In a world of constant change, she has been a steady presence and a source of comfort and pride to generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. Queen Elizabeth II always led with grace, an unwavering devotion to duty and the incomparable strength of her example. She was a stateswoman of unparalleled dignity and fortitude who deepened the fundamental alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Queen passed away peacefully in Balmoral on Thursday afternoon, Buckingham Palace says
She helped make our relationship special. The seven decades of its history-making rule witnessed an era of unprecedented human progress and the progressive advance of human dignity. Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and in the story of our world.
As a sign of respect for the memory of Queen Elizabeth II, by the authority conferred on me as President of the United States by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States be flown at half-mast flown into the White House and on all public buildings and lands, on all military posts and naval stations, and on all federal government naval vessels in the District of Columbia and in the United States and its territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of the funeral.
I also command that the flag be flown at half-mast for the same time in all U.S. embassies, legations, consular offices and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval ships and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have set my hand on this eighth September, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two, and of the independence of the United States of America, on the two hundred and forty-seventh.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the Royal Family as they mourn not only their Queen, but also their dear mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and in the story of our world.”
Biden’s most recent meeting with the Queen was last year, while visiting the UK for a G7 summit of world leaders.
When the summit ended, the Bidens flew to Windsor Castle for a one-on-one meeting with the Queen, complete with inspecting a guard of honor and afternoon tea.
The president just managed to evade royal protocol. At one point, as he joined the queen on a dais to observe the royal salute, he seemed to reach out to grab her arm—before restraining himself at the last minute.
Then Biden compared the queen to his mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden.
“I don’t think she would be offended, but she reminded me of my mother, the looks of her and just the generosity,” he said.
On Thursday, White House press officer Karine Jean-Pierre was on stage during her daily news briefing as the news broke.
“Is that confirmed?” she asked as reporters called out details.
When told that the news came from official sources, she paid tribute to the strong relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Our hearts go out to the people of the UK, to the Queen and to her family,” she said.
Her briefing was dominated by questions about the monarch, her health and Biden’s response.
She said the president was kept informed throughout the day and had spoken warm words to Prime Minister Liz Truss during a video call with other world leaders.
“His and the first lady’s thoughts are with the Queen and her family today,” she said at the beginning of the briefing.
“The President also informed Prime Minister Truss during a previously scheduled video conference this morning that he and Dr Biden are thinking of the Queen, her family and the people of the United Kingdom.”
She added that the president last spoke to the Queen in June last year, when the Bidens traveled to Britain for a G7 summit.
Biden’s tribute was among dozens of world leaders as the news spread.
Former President Donald Trump, who has met her twice during his term in office, said:
Our thoughts and prayers will remain with the wonderful people of the UK as you honor her most meaningful life and exceptional service to the people.
“May God bless the Queen, may she reign in our hearts forever.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the Queen has embodied the continuity and unity of the British nation for more than 70 years. I keep the memory of a friend of France, a queen of hearts who marked her country and her century like never before.’
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed his sadness at the news
The Stars and Stripes was also lowered over the US Capitol Building
“Germany remains eternally grateful for reaching out to us for reconciliation after the terror of World War II,” she tweeted.
Britain’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, said: ‘Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain is built. Our country has grown and prospered under her rule.
‘Thanks to her, Britain is the great country it is today.’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the Queen as “a constant presence in our lives.”
“Her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history,” he wrote.