Barack Obama and Joe Biden React to Queen Elizabeth II's Death: "She Defined an Era"
The Obamas and Bidens are mourning Queen Elizabeth II's death. The monarch was 96 when she died at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands on Sept. 8, passing the throne to her oldest son, King Charles III.
Over the course of their respective times in the White House, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, and First Lady Jill Biden have worked closely with the queen, and on Thursday, both families shared their sentiments and reflections in her honor. In a statement shared on the White House website, President Biden also announced that all US flags would be flown at half-mast until sunset as a "mark of respect for the memory of Queen Elizabeth II."
Ahead, see how the Obamas and the Bidens are remembering the late royal.
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Barack and Michelle first met Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 one year after taking office. Their meeting marked the first time the queen broke "royal protocol" in several years as she and the then-first lady shared a hug. The Obamas met with the Queen again in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016, creating a special bond with the royal.
In a statement shared to their social media accounts on Thursday, the former president and former first lady said, "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. Today, Michelle and I join so many others who are celebrating her life and mourning her passing."
"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."
"During World War II, she became the first-ever female royal to serve on active military duty. And through periods of prosperity and stagnation—from the moon landing, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the dawn of the digital age—she served as a beacon of hope and stability for the people of the United Kingdom and the world."
"Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us. 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."
The statement continued, "Her Majesty worked with 15 Prime Ministers and countless foreign heads of state. She listened deeply, thought strategically, and was responsible for considerable diplomatic achievements. And yet, she wore her lofty titles with a light touch—as willing to act in a comic sketch for the London Olympics as she was to record steadying messages for the people of the UK during the COVID-19 lockdowns."
"Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us. 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."
"Like so many, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty's dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service. Our thoughts are with her family and the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time."
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden's Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
The Bidens knew Queen Elizabeth II for three decades, most recently meeting with her at Windsor Castle in June 2021 when she hosted them during a visit to the UK for the G7 Leaders summit. "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era," the president wrote in a statement posted on the White House website.
He continued, "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."
"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."
"She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection—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."
"Supported by her beloved Prince Philip for 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II led always with grace, an unwavering commitment to duty, and the incomparable power of her example. She endured the dangers and deprivations of a world war alongside the British people and rallied them during the devastation of a global pandemic to look to better days ahead. Through her dedication to her patronages and charities, she supported causes that uplifted people and expanded opportunity. By showing friendship and respect to newly independent nations around the world, she elevated the cause of liberty and fostered enduring bonds that helped strengthen the Commonwealth, which she loved so deeply, into a community to promote peace and shared values."
"Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special."
For President Biden, the Queen's personal and global influence was evident in the way she ruled and in the relationships she built with those around her. "We first met the Queen in 1982, traveling to the UK as part of a Senate delegation. And we were honored that she extended her hospitality to us in June 2021 during our first overseas trip as President and First Lady, where she charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom. All told, she met 14 American presidents," he said. "She helped Americans commemorate both the anniversary of the founding of Jamestown and the bicentennial of our independence. And she stood in solidarity with the United States during our darkest days after 9/11, when she poignantly reminded us that 'Grief is the price we pay for love.'"
"In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort. Today, the thoughts and prayers of people all across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief. We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are not only mourning their Queen, but their dear mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world."