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‘An inspiration’: Tributes to UK’s late Queen at UN meeting

UNITED NATIONS – This year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting of world leaders followed another event that reverberated internationally – the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, followed at the both a wave of tributes and a sometimes bitter reflection on the colonialist empire that has collapsed. end during his seven decades on the throne.

There have also been questions about whether the loss of the long-reigning monarch could affect the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 56 nations which in many cases have historical and linguistic ties to Britain. Fourteen of them are Commonwealth “kingdoms” – former colonies where the British monarch, now King Charles III, remains the head of state.

Some were already reviewing this relationship before the death of the queen.

Barbados severed its tie with the monarchy and became fully independent last year, thanks to congratulations from Elizabeth and Charles. The prime ministers of Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda said earlier this year they intended to do the same, and Antigua and Barbuda’s Gaston Browne followed after the Queen’s death telling Britain’s ITV News that he planned to call a referendum within three years.

Others have no such plans, at least for now. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese laid the groundwork for a possible Australian republic earlier in the year but said after Elizabeth’s death it was time to honor the Queen, not change governments. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern, who supports the idea of ​​becoming a republic, said she had no plans to address the issue anytime soon, noting there were many other issues in the plate of the country.

So there are also some on the agenda of the General Assembly, and the future of the Commonwealth has not taken into account the great speeches that each country must make. But some took time to remember the Queen and invoked her words and example to suggest future action – or lessons for leaders.

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British Prime Minister Liz Truss, whom Elizabeth officially named two days before her death, said Elizabeth ‘symbolized the post-war values’ underlying the UN and recalled a speech the Queen had delivered to the General Assembly in 1957.

“She warned that it was vital not only to have strong ideals, but also to have the political will to realize them. Now we have to show that will. We must fight to defend these ideals. And we have to respect them for all of our people,” Truss said.

Mauritius is a former British colony off the southeast coast of Africa, and the two countries remain at odds over the Chagos Islands, which the UK continues to control. The former residents fought a years-long legal fight for the right to return to the archipelago after Britain evicted them in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for a military base.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has urged Truss’s new government to address the issue by getting “on the right side of history”, stressing Elizabeth’s “values ​​and principles”.

“What more appropriate tribute to the memory of this great monarch who devoted her life to service, to upholding the values ​​of democracy, human rights and international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity, than to end this story and to do so in a way that respects sovereignty, security issues, the environment and basic human rights? He asked.


Papua New Guinea is one of the most remote ‘kingdoms’ where the British monarch is still head of state, and Prime Minister James Marape closed his remarks to the General Assembly with a tribute to the sovereign that he said the islanders affectionately referred to as ‘Mama Kwin’.

“Our beloved Queen personified grace, dignity, honesty, humility, tolerance of others, forgiveness and all other Christian virtues and lived 70 years of a consistent and unfailing life of service audience – some lessons that we as world leaders need to learn to practice,” he said. said.

The prime minister of another “kingdom”, Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands, called her “an inspiration, a figure of stability, dignity and grace”.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama recalled that Elizabeth pulled out of greeting other guests to greet her at a reception a few years ago – and welcome her country to the Commonwealth. Fiji was suspended in 2006 after Bainimarama seized power in a coup, then reinstated after elections in 2014 when he won his first term as prime minister.

The Queen’s welcome “was a simple gesture but a special affirmation of all that we have been working to achieve Fiji’s new and true democracy,” said Bainimarama, whose head of state is a president, not the monarch.

Gabon and Togo’s colonial history belongs to France, not Britain, and both African nations are members of the French-speaking countries’ own affinity group, the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie. But Togo also joined the Commonwealth last June.

At the first General Assembly since then, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba hailed Elizabeth’s “respect, friendship and wise counsel to many independent nations around the world, big and small” – and added kind words for the new king. Bongo praised Charles’ concern for the environment, climate change and biodiversity.

Some other members of the Commonwealth, from Dominica to Malawi, took the time to express their condolences and pay their respects to the Queen. The same was true for a few countries that are not part of the group, including the French-speaking Central African Republic and Madagascar and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.

Perhaps the most comprehensive tribute came from Hungarian President Katalin Novak, who repeatedly quoted a 2010 speech in which Elizabeth spoke to the General Assembly about leadership, the work of the UN and what which she saw as the challenge facing the world organization: to continue to show and bring together leaders” without losing sight of her work to promote the security, prosperity and dignity of people around the world.

Novak urged the assembly to “rediscover our ability to distinguish between the essential and the insignificant, the important and the insignificant, fact and fiction.”

“We bid farewell to an exceptional monarch whose life was anchored in the service of peace,” she said. “We owe it to the people and their memory to make our decisions in the same spirit.”

For more AP coverage of the United Nations General Assembly, visit

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