Biden, World Leaders Gather in London For Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
U.S. President Joe Biden described Queen Elizabeth II as “decent, honorable and all about service” as he and first lady Jill Biden signed a condolence book Sunday, ahead of her Monday funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey.
“To all the people of England, all the people of the United Kingdom – our hearts go out to you,” the president said after he spent three minutes writing a message in a condolence book at Lancaster House, a royal property near Buckingham Palace in London. “And you were fortunate to have had her for over 70 years. We all were. The world’s better for her.”
He added that the queen reminded him of his late mother, and that, when they met, “she kept offering me more, I kept eating everything she put in front of me.”
Biden, who arrived late Saturday, is among hundreds of world leaders who are gathering in Britain to attend the queen’s funeral Monday.
On Sunday, as people milled around central London, world leaders made their way to Lancaster House to deliver condolences over the queen’s death on Sept. 8 at the age of 96.
“This is a time of grief, but also a time of deep gratitude,” said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who leads one of the 56 countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of many former British colonies now led by Elizabeth’s eldest son, King Charles III. “Australians give thanks for the life of service of Queen Elizabeth II, a life defined by commitment to family, to country, to [the] Commonwealth.”
Biden and his wife are also expected to pay their respects to Elizabeth Sunday in Westminster Hall, where her body has been lying in state since Wednesday. Members of Europe’s royal families are also expected to attend the services. The king will also host a formal state reception for dignitaries Sunday.
The British crown has extended a controversial funeral invitation to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely believed to be responsible for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. But they did not invite the leaders of Russia, Belarus, Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela.
On Sunday, as the skies over London remained clear, thousands of people milled around Westminster, the center of the city. London police cheerfully marshalled the heaving crowds of families, veterans carrying bouquets and children holding lollipops, as the Queen’s image beamed at them from shop windows.