Britain’s longest-reigning monarch died peacefully Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands, where she was surrounded by her family, Buckingham Palace said in a statement. She was 96.
Biden, who met with the queen at Windsor Castle last year on his first overseas trip as president, mourned her passing in a lengthy statement released by the White House.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era,” Biden said. “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. 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.
“She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection,” Biden continued, “whether they heard her on the radio as a young princess speaking to the children of the United Kingdom, or gathered around their televisions for her coronation, or watched her final Christmas speech or her Platinum Jubilee on their phones. And she, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service."
In his statement, Biden noted that Queen Elizabeth met with 14 U.S. presidents during her 70-year reign. (The queen actually met with 13 sitting presidents, as she never met Lyndon B. Johnson.)
“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” he added. “She helped make our relationship special.”
Biden also issued a proclamation directing that all American flags be flown at half-staff “as a mark of respect” for the queen’s memory until sunset on the day of her interment.
Former President Barack Obama also released a lengthy statement on her passing.
“From the day of her coronation 70 years ago — the first one ever televised — to this very moment, as countless tributes are being posted online in her honor, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has captivated the world,” Obama said. “Her Majesty was just 25 years old when she took on the enormous task of helming one of the world’s great democracies. In the decades that followed, she would go on to make the role of Queen her own — with a reign defined by grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic, defying the odds and expectations placed on women of her generation."
Obama, who met with the queen four times during his two terms in office, also recalled her warm personality.
“Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us,” he said. “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.”
Former President Donald Trump, who met with the queen twice during his one-term presidency, posted several messages about her on Truth Social, his social media platform.
“Melania and I are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Trump wrote. “Together with our family and fellow Americans, we send our sincere condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom during this time of great sorrow and grief. Queen Elizabeth’s historic and remarkable reign left a tremendous legacy of peace and prosperity for Great Britain.
"She will always be remembered for her faithfulness to her country and her unwavering devotion to her fellow countrymen and women,” he added. “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. What a grand and beautiful lady she was — there was nobody like her!”
Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also released statements mourning the queen’s passing.
“Laura and I were honored to have known Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit,” Bush said. “Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty — and her Corgis — is among our fondest memories of the presidency.
“Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow,” he added. “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. Laura and I join our fellow citizens in sending our heartfelt condolences to the Royal family and the British people.”
“Hillary and I mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and we join with people across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and all around the world, in giving thanks for her extraordinary life,” Clinton said in a statement. “Throughout her remarkable 70-year reign, she led Britain through great transformations with unfailing grace, dignity, and genuine care for the welfare of all its people. In sunshine or storm, she was a source of stability, serenity, and strength.
“We will always be grateful for the kindness she showed us through the years, particularly during our visits to Buckingham Palace in 1995 and 2000, and for all she did to deepen the Special Relationship,” he added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Royal Family and all the people Her Majesty inspired throughout her lifetime of service.”
The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum posted a photo on Twitter of the queen and Carter in London in 1977.
The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum sends our condolences to the @RoyalFamily at this time. Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, is shown here with President Carter during his trip to London on May 7, 1977. NAID 174723 pic.twitter.com/3kkDDpFpsQ
— Jimmy Carter Presidential Library (@CarterLibrary) September 8, 2022
Other current and former U.S. leaders also paid tribute to the queen, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff in honor of her passing.
The queen’s death came a day after she canceled a virtual meeting with members of her Privy Council on the advice of her doctors, who were concerned about her condition.
As news of the queen’s deteriorating health spread, people gathered outside of Buckingham Palace for updates on her condition and members of the royal family, including Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, rushed to Balmoral to be by her side.
A framed statement announcing her death was affixed to the palace gates.