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Queen was ‘rock of modern Britain’ says Liz Truss as PM leads political tributes

Elizabeth II ‘touched the lives of millions’ says PM as she ushers in era of King Charles III

Adam Forrest,Kate Devlin
Thursday 08 September 2022 20:58 BST
'She was the very spirit of Britain': Liz Truss reacts to death of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was the “rock” on which modern Britain was built, Liz Truss has said, as she marked “the passing of the second Elizabethan age”.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday evening, the new Conservative prime minister said the Queen had been “a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons”.

She said: “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”

Ms Truss added: “It’s an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years,” noting that the monarch had “touched the lives of millions around the world”.

The prime minister concluded her address by saying “God save the King” – confirming that the new monarch will be known as King Charles III.

“We offer him our loyalty and devotion,” she said. “And 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’.”

Ms Truss composed the statement herself after being informed of the Queen’s death at around 4.30pm by the head of the civil service Simon Case as she worked in No 10. Shortly after speaking outside the famous black door of Downing Street, she spoke by phone with King Charles to offer her condolences.

Party leaders, former prime ministers and heads of state joined Ms Truss in paying tribute to the Queen. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the nation mourned the passing of our “greatest ever monarch”.

“Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon,” Sir Keir said. “For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II stood as the head of our country. But, in spirit, she stood amongst us.”

Outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson said it was the country’s “saddest day” and that the Queen had possessed a “unique and simple power to make us happy”. He added: “That is why we loved her. That is why we grieve for Elizabeth the Great, the longest-serving, and in many ways the finest, monarch in our history.”

Sir John Major, the former Tory PM, said of the Queen that she was “selfless and wise” and had a “wonderful generosity of spirit”, adding: “For we have all lost someone very precious to us and, as we mourn, we should be grateful that we were blessed with such an example of duty and leadership for so very many years.”

Sir Tony Blair said Britain had lost “the matriarch of our nation, the figure who more than any other brought our country together, kept us in touch with our better nature, personified everything which makes us proud to be British”.

Gordon Brown, the former Labour PM, said that the Queen had “served this country to the last” and that the “entire world” was in mourning. Theresa May, another of Ms Truss’s predecessors at No 10, said she had been “our constant throughout this entire Elizabethan era”.

David Cameron, former Tory PM, said the late monarch had been “a rock of strength for our nation and the Commonwealth ... There can simply be no finer example of dignified public duty and unstinting service.”

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Queen’s death was a “profoundly sad moment”, hailing her “life of extraordinary dedication and service”. Wales’s first minister Mark Drakeford said the Queen’s death was “an immense loss” and spoke of her “long and exceptional life”.

Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the Queen’s death was a “terrible loss for us all”, adding: “We will miss her beyond measure.” Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the Queen represented “duty and courage, as well as warmth and compassion”.

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin conveyed his deepest sympathy to the British people, stating: “Our world is a poorer place for her passing, but a far richer and better place as a result of her long life and enduring contribution.”

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