LONDON (AP) — British politicians across the political spectrum united in sorrow Thursday at the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a passing that brought the country's usually fractious politics to a halt.
The queen’s death at age 96 will be marked with 10 days of national mourning, culminating in a state funeral for the monarch.
Essential government functions will continue, but much of the routine business of politics will be put on pause. Parliament is likely to sit for a special session of tributes.
New Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was told of the news about 90 minutes before it was made public, said the country was “devastated” by the death of the monarch on Thursday, calling her “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
“We are now a modern, thriving, dynamic nation,” Truss said outside her 10 Downing St. residence in London. “Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.
“She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure,” Truss said.
She ended her statement with words that no British leader has said for 70 years: “God save the king.”
Truss was appointed by the queen just 48 hours earlier at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, becoming the 15th prime minister to serve during Elizabeth’s reign. The queen died at Balmoral on Thursday afternoon after 70 years on the throne.
The Union Jack flag atop the prime minister’s residence was lowered to half-staff after the monarch’s death was announced.
Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, said “this is our country’s saddest day.”
He said the passing of the only monarch most Britons have ever known would provoke “a deep and personal sense of loss – far more intense, perhaps, than we expected.”
But Johnson said her heir, 73-year-old King Charles III, would “amply do justice to her legacy.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also paid tribute to a constitutional monarch he said was “above the clashes of politics.”
“She stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon. As Britain changed rapidly around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world,” he said. “So as our great Elizabethan era comes to an end, we will honor the late queen’s memory by keeping alive the values of public service she embodied.”
Follow all AP stories on British royalty at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press