We remember a remarkable woman today. A remarkable human being. Who shouldered an immense responsibility over the past 70 years. Her inspiration has spanned generations. And touched the lives of so many.
While we all mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth the Second, we also consider her reign. It has left a legacy like few others in European and global history. From the turbulent years of the Cold War well into the globalised era of the 21st century.
For many, she was an anchor of stability in a rapidly changing world. She was once called “Elizabeth the Steadfast”. She was indeed a wise leader who never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in this modern world – values like service, commitment, and tradition.
She once said: “grief is the price we pay for love”. She was respected, esteemed, and sincerely loved by so many around the world. Our thoughts are, first and foremost, with the King and the Royal Family, with the people of the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth.
For us in the European Union, her reign covered almost the full arc of post-war European integration. We will always remember her contribution to reconciliation among our nations after World War II and the Cold War. She had experienced the devastation of World War II and knew the importance of trust and cooperation among our countries.
Many of our past and present European leaders have experienced her warm hospitality. So did I at several occasions.
We will do our part to carry on her legacy. Her special legacy of building bridges and of building trust among nations.