WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and other U.S. leaders mourned the death on Thursday of Queen Elizabeth II, whose 70-year-reign spanned more than a dozen presidencies and enormous global and diplomatic change.
In a statement, Biden and first lady Jill Biden called the queen “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States.”
The Bidens wrote, “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,” and they said they “look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort.”
They later visited the British Embassy in Washington, where they took flowers and signed a condolence book.
After the embassy visit, Biden made brief remarks about the queen at a Democratic National Committee event.
“She was an incredibly gracious and decent woman,” he said.
Buckingham Palace announced that Elizabeth died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at age 96. She was the longest-serving British monarch.
She had met with 13 sitting U.S. presidents, dating to 1951, when President Harry S. Truman welcomed Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Washington National Airport for a two-day stay in the nation’s capital.
Former presidents — from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump — offered their condolences Thursday.
“Melania and I will always cherish our time together with the Queen, and never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humor,” Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform.
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama said the queen’s reign was “defined by grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic, defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation.”
Former President George W. Bush said spending time at Buckingham Palace and having tea with the queen and her beloved corgis was one of his “fondest memories of the presidency.”
Former President Bill Clinton celebrated the queen for leading the U.K. "with unfailing grace, dignity, and genuine care for the welfare of all its people,” while former President Jimmy Carter called the queen a “remarkable leader” and “an inspiration.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a statement that attending the queen’s speech to Congress in 1991 was a personal honor and said her “extraordinary life and leadership will continue to inspire young women and girls in public service, now and for generations to come.”
Biden, who first met the queen in 1982 as a Democratic senator from Delaware, last saw her in June 2021 during a trip to the U.K. for the annual Group of Seven summit.
After the summit, the queen hosted the president and the first lady at Windsor Castle, her royal residence outside London. Biden at the time described the queen as “extremely gracious” and said she “reminded me of my mother.”
Biden participated in a video call with British Prime Minister Liz Truss and other allies Thursday morning before the queen's death was announced. He offered his support to the queen and the people of the U.K.
A White House official said Truss abruptly left the call, a sign that the queen had passed.