The World Mourns Elizabeth Ii A Queen Dedicated To Service

The World Mourns Elizabeth II, a Queen Dedicated To Service

CAPE TOWN (AP) — The death of Queen Elizabeth II of England has sparked reactions around the world and a reflection on the historical weight of her reign, on her success as a sovereign despite reigning at the end of the British colonial empire and her way to adopt their former dominions as independent nations.

His death triggered a wave of tributes to his life, from world leaders to rock stars and ordinary people, although it also brought criticism of the monarchy.

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In Cape Town in 1947, where she was celebrating her 21st birthday, then-Princess Elizabeth vowed that her “entire life, long or short, will be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” ”.

The British empire soon fell apart, but Elizabeth managed to maintain her royal, if not ceremonial, position as head of the 54-nation Commonwealth of Nations, most of them former British colonies.

“The queen lived a long and consistent life, fulfilling her promise to serve until her last breath, at the age of 96,” Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said in a statement on Friday. “She was an exemplary leader, the kind you rarely see in modern times.”

As queen, Elizabeth supported the birth of democracies in her former colonies in Africa, where basic rights for black citizens, including the right to vote, had long been denied. Dancing with new African leaders in the 1960s wearing sparkly tiaras and visiting capitals, she polished the new institutions.

When white minority rule in South Africa finally fell in 1994, Elizabeth welcomed Nelson Mandela as world leader. Her warm and open friendship with Mandela was something the South African leader relished in her, and it gave her a new relevance.

“In the years after his release from prison, (Mandela) cultivated a close friendship with the queen. He hosted her in South Africa and visited her in England, particularly enjoying her exploring Buckingham Palace. They also used to speak frequently on the phone, using their first names with each other, as a sign of mutual respect as well as affection,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement Friday.

“It was important to Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) that the former colonial power in southern Africa be drawn into cordial and productive relations with the new democratic republic of South Africa. For the same reason, the fact that South Africa became an official member of the Commonwealth of Nations again, after its long absence during the apartheid era, had a special meaning”.

Radical anti-apartheid fighter, Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also had good relations with the queen, and his foundation paid tribute to him.

“Though cloaked in the pomp, ceremony and lifestyle of royalty and empire, in a world of profound inequality, she was a servant queen,” the Tutu Trust and Foundation said on Friday.

In contrast, a scathing view of the monarch’s reign was uttered by South Africa’s populist Economic Freedom Fighters party, for which the queen was “head of an institution built, sustained and maintained by a brutal legacy of dehumanization of millions of people.” in the world,” they said in a statement.

“We do not mourn Isabel’s death, because for us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and in the history of Africa,” the party said. “During her 70-year reign, she never acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on the native peoples of the world that Britain invaded. She voluntarily benefited from the wealth that was obtained by the exploitation and murder of millions of people”.

Some British soccer fans cheered loudly after the queen’s death in a match on Thursday night, according to videos posted online that upset supporters of the queen. The leaders of the Republic of Ireland expressed their condolences and admiration for the queen.

Tributes for Elizabeth were widespread, from US President Joe Biden to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

She was a “statesman of unparalleled dignity and steadfastness, who deepened the steadfast alliance between Great Britain and the United States,” Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement that further noted that Elizabeth “defined an era.”

Putin sent a telegram to King Charles III, Elizabeth’s son who automatically became Britain’s new monarch.

“For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage. I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy and irreparable loss,” the Russian president wrote.

The queen’s death was also mourned throughout Europe. In France, Britain’s historical rival and contemporary ally, flags at the presidential palace and public buildings flew at half-staff on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron posted a video message in English expressing his “empty” feeling after her death. Addressing the British people, the French president said: “For you she was your queen. For us she was THE queen.”

The tributes even came from places where the relationship with the British monarchy was complicated. In India, once a British colony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the queen “a stalwart of our time.”

The queen’s death came at a time when a growing number of British territories in the Caribbean are seeking to replace the monarchy with their own heads of state, amid calls for Britons to apologize for colonial-era abuses and grant reparations for slavery to their former colonies.

Still, Caribbean leaders, from Jamaica to Bermuda and beyond, mourned the loss.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that for a long time, Elizabeth visited the island every decade.

“He undoubtedly formed a special bond with the people of Jamaica,” he said. “We are saddened to never see the light of her again, but we will remember her historic reign.”

David Burt, his Bermuda counterpart, noted that his reign “spanned decades of great change for Britain and the world.”

But not only Great Britain lost its monarch: Elizabeth was sovereign in 14 other countries, including Jamaica, Canada, Australia, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

“Here is a woman who gave her life, totally, in the service of others. And regardless of what everyone thinks of the role of monarchies in the world, it is undeniable, I think, that here is an example of someone who gave everything on behalf of his people, “said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern .

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he found it hard to believe he had had his last conversation with Elizabeth: “I will miss those talks so much.” Elizabeth visited Canada 22 times as monarch.

“Most of us Canadians have not known another sovereign,” Trudeau said. She was a “constant presence in our lives, and her service to Canadians will always remain an important part of our country’s history.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who led a failed campaign for a president to replace the monarch as head of state, held back tears as he remembered Elizabeth.

“It is the end of an era and hopefully in the future, after the queen’s passing, we will have as dedicated and selfless leadership as she has shown,” Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Isabel’s death caught the attention of the population in China, where it was one of the most commented topics on social networks.

“I feel quite sad,” said Bao Huifang, a lawyer in Beijing. “She was a very important part of stabilizing Britain and the world.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his condolences, noting that Elizabeth was the first British monarch to visit China.

Elizabeth’s death comes at a time of increasingly tense relations between Britain and China. Xi said he was willing to work with King Charles III to foster “healthy and stable” bilateral ties.

In the United States, the tributes came not only from the Bidens, but from every living former president.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said Elizabeth made “the role of monarch her own, with a reign defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic.” George W. Bush called her “a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit.” And Jimmy Carter said that Elizabeth’s dignity, “her grace and her sense of duty,” were inspiring.

Rock star Elton John remembered her at her concert in Toronto, where he said she had been an inspiration to him and was saddened by her departure. “She led the country through some of our best and darkest moments with grace and decency and genuine love,” he said.

At the United Nations, the Security Council observed a minute of silence at the beginning of a meeting on Ukraine. The French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas De Riviere, president of the council, sent his condolences on behalf of its 15 members.

Elizabeth was sovereign “in a period of historic changes for her country and for the world,” he said. “Her life was dedicated to the service of her country.”

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AP writers Mogomotsi Magome in Johannesburg, and Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, contributed to this report.

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