Commonwealth marks loss of figurehead, link to the past » Capital News

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern writes in a condolence book for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Wellington on Friday © AFP / Marty MELVILLE

Sydney (AFP), September 8 – As Britain mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, a series of dominions, kingdoms and former colonies marked the loss of a common figurehead and an irreplaceable link to an era that has come to an end. quickly fades.

Although she is 96, the Queen’s death came as an emotional jolt felt from Africa to the Pacific.

“Papua New Guineans from the mountains, valleys and coasts woke up this morning to hear that our Queen has been buried by God,” Prime Minister James Marape told his nation.

“We affectionately call her ‘Mama Queen,'” he said, in one of dozens of moving tributes that poured in from countries once colored pink on the cards.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had read worrying news about her monarch’s poor health before going to bed.

A “police officer shone a torch in my room around 10:00 this morning… I immediately understood what that meant”.

“I am deeply saddened,” she added, fondly recalling conversations about parenting in the spotlight.

Mourners in Ottawa, Canada, lay flowers on the steps of the British High Commission following the death of Queen Elizabeth II © AFP / Dave Chan

Across the Pacific, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Queen will “forever remain an important part” of Canadian history, adding personal memories that went beyond the smothering statements.

“She was one of my favorite people in the world,” he said. “I will miss these talks so much.”

Most of Britain’s former colonies have completely transformed since a fresh-faced Elizabeth Windsor was crowned in 1953.

India’s population at that time was around 380 million – down from 1.4 billion today – British forces brutally suppressed the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya, and New Zealand subject Edmund Hillary was making the first successful ascent of Mount Everest with his under-recognized Nepali partner Tenzing Norgay.

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For some, Elizabeth II represented one of the few remaining links to a sepia era of empire, the “old country,” an intertwined history, or the shared sacrifice of a savage world war.

India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled Elizabeth II by showing her a hand-spun handkerchief given to her by independence hero Mahatma Gandhi at his wedding.

“I will always cherish this gesture,” he wrote on Twitter. “She personified dignity and decency in public life. Saddened by his passing.

– ‘Cannot be replaced’ –

Queen Elizabeth II attended a garden party at Government House in Perth, Western Australia in 2011 © POOL/AFP/Dossier / Lincoln BAKER

The death of Elizabeth II inevitably raised questions about whether the bonds forcibly formed by colonization and sustained by the charisma of the little monarch can last.

The Queen had been a “driving force” in the Commonwealth, said Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations at the King’s India Institute in London.

The bloc of 56 countries – mostly former British colonies – spans Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, and includes 15 kingdoms where Elizabeth II was still head of state.

“So what’s happening to this Commonwealth now?” Will he survive in the future? Pant asked.

In Sydney, Maya Munro, 20, said the Queen was both an “incredible figurehead” and an example, especially for women.

But, like many young Australians, she imagines “a very different role” for the monarchy in the future.

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“I think the Queen has been the monarchy for so long. And she brought him so much respect and history and honor,” she said.

“I think it’s just that it plays a different role in our lives these days. Maybe we’re moving away from the monarchy now.

In New Zealand’s capital Wellington, Warwick Murray, 50, said “politicians come and go, but someone like Queen Elizabeth cannot be replaced”.

“The fact that she was above politics and could really rally positivity means I have deep admiration for her.”

Queen Elizabeth II and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo smile at the official opening of a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2003 © SWIMMING POOL/AFP / STEFAN ROUSSEAU

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – an avowed Republican – sought to deflect questions about the future head of state by declaring 10 days of mourning.

Instead, he paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s “timeless decency”, saying her death marked the “end of an era”.

“A historic reign and a long life of duty, family, faith and service have come to an end,” he said.

“Today is a day for one issue, and one issue only, which is to pay tribute.”

Even in places where the legacy of British colonialism is still raw, rulers focused on the attributes of women rather than the baggage of their role.

“The history of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth II, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader,” President Muhammadu Buhari said.

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In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta said she was “a towering icon of selfless service to humanity”, while President-elect William Ruto said her leadership of the Commonwealth was “admirable”.

Zimbabwe’s president, who stepped down from the Commonwealth in 2003 after it was suspended on human rights grounds and endured decades of frosty relations with his former colonial ruler, offered his sympathies to the British public.

“May she rest in peace,” wrote President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

His death was also mourned all the way to the Cook Islands, where a book of condolences will be open to the public for signature before being sent to Buckingham Palace.

The islands’ Prime Minister, Mark Brown, said: ‘The Queen is dead, long live the King’.


Harry D. Gonzalez