Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Passing of Queen Elizabeth II

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On behalf of the Department of Defense, I send my condolences to the family of Her Majesty The Queen and to the people of the United Kingdom and all Commonwealth nations.  

From an early age, Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated a profound sense of duty to her country and to the world that the next generation would inherit. She grew up in a world rocked by conflict and war, and in a radio address as a young princess, she reminded her generation that, “when peace comes, it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.” During World War II, she joined the women’s branch of the British Army, making her the first woman of the royal family to be an active duty member of the British Armed Forces.

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. She promised to devote her whole life to service—and did just that, for the next seven decades. As the United Kingdom’s head of state, she was a steady and comforting presence to generations. On the global stage, Queen Elizabeth II was a source of calm and strength over decades of change for country and the world. She helped to fortify the Alliance between our two great democracies, and with her steady leadership, the United Kingdom helped to build and maintain the rules-based international order, rooted in cooperation and democratic values. 

In 1991, before the Queen addressed a joint session of Congress, President George H.W. Bush said that she had been “freedom’s friend for as long as we can remember.” And on the last day of her long and full life, it feels fitting that countries from around the world are once again rallying together in defense of the rules-based international order that she so ardently supported throughout her decades of service.

During this painful moment for the United Kingdom, my thoughts are with the Queen Elizabeth’s family, King Charles III, all those who loved her, and with our stalwart British allies.

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