AUSTIN (KXAN) — Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday after 70 years on the throne, making her Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. She was 96.
Buckingham Palace announced the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where members of the royal family had gathered by her side.
She ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1962, when her father, King George VI, died.
Over the past seven decades, she saw 15 prime ministers and 14 U.S. presidents, the first being Harry S. Truman.
Lyndon B. Johnson was the only president that the Queen did not meet in person, but she did visit his presidential library and museum during a trip to Austin in May 1991.
President Joe Biden, along with former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, have released statements in reaction to the Queen’s death.
Biden said the Queen was more than a monarch — she defined an era.
“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,” Biden said in a statement. “An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.”
“We first met the Queen in 1982, traveling to the UK as part of a Senate delegation. And we were honored that she extended her hospitality to us in June 2021 during our first overseas trip as President and First Lady, where she charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom,” Biden said.
The president went on to say the Queen helped Americans commemorate the anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, as well as the bicentennial of the United States’ independence from Great Britain.
“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,’” Biden’s statement said.
President Obama said the Queen meant a great deal to both him and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity. Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance,” Obama said in a statement.
“Like so many, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service,” the statement went on to say. “Our thoughts are with her family and the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time. “
In a statement, President Bush said he and former First Lady Laura Bush were honored to have known the Queen.
“She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit. Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency,” President Bush’s statement read. “Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our world benefitted from her steady resolve, and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship. Laura and I join our fellow citizens in sending our heartfelt condolences to the Royal family and the British people.”
The Queen’s son, Charles, immediately became King at the moment of her passing. Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen on Tuesday, referred to him as King Charles III outside 10 Downing Street shortly after the announcement of the death.
“With the King’s family, we mourn the loss of his mother and as we mourn, we must come together as a people to support him, to help him bear the awesome responsibility that he now carries for us all. We offer him our loyalty and devotion, just as his mother devoted so much to so many for so long,” Truss said.
“With the passing of the Second Elizabethan Age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country, exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words, ‘God Save the King.’”