Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has expressed New Zealanders’ deep sadness at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, describing Her Majesty as a monarch with an unwavering sense of duty.
“I know that I speak for people across New Zealand in offering our deepest sympathy to members of the Royal Family at the passing of the Queen. To us she was a much admired and respected monarch, to them she was a mother and grandmother,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“The Queen was a much loved and admired monarch, whose record reign of 70 years is an absolute testament to her, and her commitment to us all. She was extraordinary.
“People throughout the world will be feeling an acute sense of loss at this time and New Zealanders most certainly share that grief. The Queen was a much respected constant through unprecedented global change.”
Her death was announced at 5.30am (6.30pm London time). Family members had rushed to Balmoral Castle, Scotland, earlier in the day after doctors expressed concern about Her Majesty’s declining health.
In a statement, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
The Queen visited New Zealand on 10 occasions, with a notable first tour over the summer of 1953-54 when she and Duke of Edinburgh visited 46 centres and attended 110 functions.
“She was here to celebrate with us at events such as the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games and the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games. She also mourned with us when we were hit by terrible tragedies such as the Tangiwai rail disaster and the February 2011 earthquake,” said the Prime Minister.
“I know a number of New Zealanders who had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty were struck by her keen interest, warmth and sense of humour. I remember in my very first meeting with Her Majesty being humbled by her intimate knowledge of New Zealand and its triumphs and challenges.
“I presented her with a gift from a New Zealander who had kept a photo of her visit more than 50 years prior. She recalled where it was taken and even what had made her laugh at the moment the photo was taken.”
Her passing will see Britain enter a 10-day mourning period. The public will be given an opportunity to pay their respects, with her casket to be taken to London where she will lie in state in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament for four days.
A state funeral is expected to take place on Monday, 19 September. New Zealand’s representation at Her Majesty’s funeral service will be confirmed shortly.
Prime Minister Ardern said the Government would make arrangements for a State Memorial Service.
Prince Charles, who will now reign as King Charles III, released a statement this morning.
“The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”
The Queen died at Balmoral Castle just 17 months after the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Flags will fly at half mast to mark Her Majesty’s death. Further information about mourning observances will be available on the Governor-General’s website, at www.gg.govt.nz