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The World Reacts to Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

News of her death sparked an outpouring of grief from world leaders.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she opens the refurbished East Wing of Somerset House in London on Feb. 29, 2011.
Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she opens the refurbished East Wing of Somerset House in London on Feb. 29, 2011.
Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she opens the refurbished East Wing of Somerset House in London on Feb. 29, 2011. Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy, turmoil in the Solomon Islands, and Europe’s hottest summer on record.

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World Leaders Pay Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II 

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy, turmoil in the Solomon Islands, and Europe’s hottest summer on record.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


World Leaders Pay Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II 

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died on Thursday after ruling for 70 years. She was 96 years old.

News of her death sparked a cascade of grief around the world, although perhaps nowhere as intensely as in England, where thousands of tearful mourners congregated outside Buckingham Palace to pay their respects. British Prime Minister Liz Truss, whom the queen had met just days earlier, called her “the rock on which modern Britain was built.” 

Elizabeth “may be best remembered as a leader who provided a model of constancy in a rapidly shifting world,” Robin Oakley wrote in an obituary for Foreign Policy. “She was admired by monarchists and republicans alike for her unswerving devotion to duty and her refusal to bend to the faddish expectations of critics.”

From Europe to Asia, world leaders paid tribute to her legacy and expressed their condolences. U.S. President Joe Biden said the queen “defined an era,” while French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that she “embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity.” “I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century,” he added. 

These sentiments were echoed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who eulogized Elizabeth as a “stalwart of our times,” and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who said her death was a blow to the international community. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in, wishing King Charles III, who ascended the throne on her death, “courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss.”

Kenyan President-elect William Ruto praised her leadership in the Commonwealth. “She steered the institution’s evolution into a forum for effective multilateral engagement whose potential to drive tremendous socioeconomic progress remain incontestable and redounds to the Queen’s historic legacy,” he tweeted.

But as monarchand through the CommonwealthElizabeth also presided over an institution with a dark legacy of colonialism and subjugation that has profoundly shaped the world today. 

This legacy is especially clear in the Caribbean, where several nations that still retained her as head of state, also called Commonwealth realms, are now pushing to leave the monarchy behind, as Mary Yang reported for Foreign Policy. The countries want “the ability to elect their own head of state, independent of an external body, to oversee domestic and foreign affairs,” Yang wrote.

“But the issue goes beyond a formality,” she added. “It would be a symbolic move for formerly colonized countries to unlink themselves from the former empire that enslaved and brutalized their ancestors.”

Elizabeth’s son Charles ascends the throne as Britain grapples with a spiraling economic crisis under a new prime minister.

“Perhaps Elizabeth’s greatest achievement was her skill at bending to the forces of modernity without breaking,” Owen Matthews wrote in an obituary for Foreign Policy. “Her successor will have to do likewise by embracing not only the office but also the magic.”


What We’re Following Today

Solomon Islands controversy. The Solomon Islands’ parliament has decided to postpone elections until 2024, alarming the opposition and stoking fears of a potential power grab. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who has deepened the country’s ties with China, insisted that the decision was rooted in resource constraints.

“The reasons are simple, and we have consistently said this since day one: We cannot successfully host the national general election and the Pacific Games in the same year while our economy is still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 and the damage caused by public unrest,” he said.

Warming world. Europe’s scorching summer of heat waves and drought, worsened by climate change, was its hottest summer ever recorded, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The previous record had been set last year. 

It’s not only Europe. According to a new report published in the Review of Geophysics, countries in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean are now heating up nearly twice as quickly as other regions.


Keep an Eye On 

New U.N. rights official. Volker Turk, an Austrian diplomat, was appointed the United Nations’ top human rights official on Thursday. He follows Michelle Bachelet, who ended her tenure last week. 

“Deeply honoured to be appointed [U.N.] High Commissioner for Human Rights,” he tweeted. “I feel a deep sense of responsibility & will give it my all to advance the promises of Universal Declaration of Human Rights for everyone, everywhere.”

Korean family reunions. In an unexpected offer, South Korea has proposed talks with North Korea over reuniting family members split up by the Korean War.

“We hope that responsible officials of the two sides will meet in person as soon as possible for a candid discussion on humanitarian matters including the issue of separated families,” South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se said.


Thursday’s Most Read

A Queen for the Ages by Robin Oakley

How the Russian Oil Price Cap Will Work by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian 

The Last String of Russian Greatness Is About to Snap by Elisabeth Braw


Odds and Ends 

How far would you go for pine nuts? One man’s quest for the seeds left him adrift in a hydrogen balloon for two days, until he ended up roughly 200 miles from where he started. 

The man, who was only mentioned in Chinese media by his last name, Hu, and a colleague originally rode the balloon to harvest the nuts from a tree in Heilongjiang, China. But everything quickly spiraled out of control after the balloon floated away and his partner quickly leapt out, leaving Hu alone in a runaway balloon. Rescuers eventually found him trapped in a tree. 

“I almost gave up,” Hu told CCTV. “Thanks to the rescuers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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