US leaders pay tribute to late Queen Elizabeth II

Donald Trump, Barack Obama and other former presidents recall the queen with fondness

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Queen Elizabeth II dies — follow the latest news as the world mourns

President Joe Biden led US tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, who died at age 96 on Thursday, with a visit to the British embassy in Washington.

"We mourn for all of you," Mr Biden said during his visit with first lady Jill Biden to sign a condolences book.

"She was a great lady. We were so delighted we got to meet her."

Queen Elizabeth met nearly every president during her seven-decade reign. The one president whom the monarch did not meet during her lifetime was Lyndon B Johnson, who held office from 1963 to 1969.

Her first encounter with a US president came in 1951. Still a princess, she met president Harry Truman in Washington, where she presented him and first lady Bess Truman with an overmantel for the newly renovated White House.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era,” Mr Biden said in a statement before an evening visit to the embassy.

“The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity."

The president has directed "that the [American] flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations" until sunset on the day of the queen's interment.

Mr Biden was most recently received by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle in June 2021 as part of his visit to the UK for the Group of Seven Summit in Cornwall.

At Windsor Castle, the Bidens were greeted with a guard of honour and tea.

Barack Obama paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth's warmth and kindness.

In his and former first lady Michelle Obama's commendation of the queen, they thanked her for a welcome in the beginning of his presidency.

“Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us,” Mr Obama wrote.

“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."

Mr Obama is the only US president to be invited back to Windsor Castle after he was out of office.

Donald Trump, who visited the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2018, said she will “reign forever in our hearts”. He added that he and former first lady Melania Trump will never forget her "generous friendship, great wisdom and wonderful sense of humour”.

“What a grand and beautiful lady she was — there was nobody like her!” he wrote on Truth Social.

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Former president Bill Clinton, who toured Buckingham Palace with wife Hillary Clinton in 1995 and 2000, said they will “always be grateful for the kindness she showed”.

Jimmy Carter, another former president who visited Buckingham Palace in 1977, said the queen's grace and dignity were an inspiration.

Visiting Buckingham Palace produced some of the fondest memories for former president George Bush, who recalled having tea with the queen and her beloved corgis.

“Our world benefited from her steady resolve and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship,” Mr Bush said.

Speaking on the Senate floor earlier on Thursday morning, Republican leader Mitch McConell heralded Queen Elizabeth as “an exemplar of steady leadership” who “changed the world”.

Bob Menendez, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, recalled how Congress was “honoured” to host her joint address in 1991.

“Her meaningful engagement with American leaders from President Truman to President Biden and her commitment to our countries' special relationship greatly contributed to the enduring friendship between our nations,” Mr Menendez said.

Additional reporting by Patrick deHahn

Updated: September 09, 2022, 6:40 PM