Queen Elizabeth II mourned by world leaders; new British government faces more uncertainties
Published: Sep 09, 2022 12:14 PM
Queen Elizabeth II Photo: CFP

Queen Elizabeth II Photo: CFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday sent a message of condolence to UK's new King Charles III on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and extended sincere sympathy to the British royal family, British government and British people.

According to the Guardian, world leaders have paid tribute to the life and service of the Queen, including US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and UN Secretary General António Guterres.

Queen Elizabeth II, UK's longest-reigning monarch for seven decades, died peacefully at her home in Scotland on Thursday aged 96, leaving the nation to her 73-year-old son, the new King Charles III. The Queen's death will be followed by a tightly scripted ten-day mourning period in the UK. The Guardian said the Queen did her job with "remarkable skill and dignity," and the grief is "genuine."

Many netizens on Twitter reacted with sadness to Queen Elizabeth II's death and wished her rest in peace. Many shared pictures of rainbows that appeared over Buckingham palace and one over Windsor Castle. 

"I'd like to think the faint one over Buckingham was Prince Philip, waiting for her," said a Twitter user. 

On Sina Weibo, many Chinese netizens expressed condolences over the passing of the first British monarch that visited China, as Queen Elizabeth II witnessed and promoted the development of China-UK relations. 

Chinese netizens described the Queen as "elegant, adorable and friendly," and recalling her excellent sense of fashion, her beloved corgis, and her love story with Prince Philip.

The Queen paid a six-day official visit to China in 1986, after the China-UK negotiations over Hong Kong's return to the motherland. During the historical trip, the Queen visited Beijing, Shanghai, Xi 'an, Kunming, Guangzhou and several other cities, experiencing China's long history as a tourist of the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors.

"She is friendly to China … She maintained Britain's last dignity," Hu Xijin, a commentator for the Global Times, wrote on Twitter.

Queen Elizabeth impresses the world better than her children and grandchildren, and better than British prime ministers that almost each one is weaker than the predecessor. I don't remember she said or did anything that upset Chinese people in recent decades, Hu wrote.  

At the same time, some are also concerned about the influence of the Royal family, the fate of the UK, especially whether her death would accelerate the Scottish independence process, though Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland who has been pushing for a referendum on Scottish independence, paid tribute to the Queen and conveyed "deepest condolences" to the Royal family. 

"Scotland loved, respected and admired her," she said. "This is a moment of acute loss and profound sadness."

Among the flood of messages on Twitter, there are also some taking the Queen's death to express their political sentiment, especially for those who are not satisfied with the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss who met the Queen and was appointed as the new Prime Minister about two days before the Queen's death. 

Some flooded to Truss' mourning Twitter post, saying that "meeting you was the final straw" leading to Queen's passing. Many reposted an ITV video clip from 1994, in which Truss told the media that the idea of a monarchy is "disgraceful." 

The queen's death will create more uncertainties for the new British government, as well as a test for Truss herself,Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

The Queen is an important link in maintaining the spirits of the UK, and has long played a pivotal role in assisting the British government to maintain public identity and social stability, especially when it comes to, for example, Scotland, the reconciliation with Ireland, and helping to achieve the transformation of Northern Ireland, according to Cui. 

Now British politics is becoming more and more fragmented, political struggle is becoming increasingly intense, Cui said, "the Queen's death for the Truss government means loss of a stabilizer."

From Winston Churchill to Truss, the Queen has gone through 15 prime ministers since she came to the throne in 1952.

It was also the period when the British Empire went from prosperity to decline, including the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, the establishment of the European Union, and the process of decolonization and democratization of the world, Li Guanjie, an assistant research fellow on British Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Friday.

When the Queen was crowned, Britain had more than 70 overseas territories and now it has only 14, media reported. And it cannot be ruled out the number would continue to decline in the future, experts said.

UK's desire to use the Commonwealth as a tool to expand its influence, to transform itself from an aggressive colonial empire into an invisible one that exerts its soft power to the world, may be less effective after the Queen's death, Li said.