United States President Joe Biden has paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on the eve of her state funeral, saying Britain and the world has been lucky to have such a dignified and dedicated servant on the throne for 70 years.
Biden – who is among scores of dignitaries and royals from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas who have arrived in London for Monday’s funeral – said the Queen’s death at 96 years of age had left a giant hole on the global stage.
“To all the people of England, all the people in the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you,” Biden said after he signed a book of condolences and viewed the Queen’s coffin at Westminster.
“You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years. We all were. The world’s better for her.”
The US president said he had consoled the Queen’s heir, King Charles, that the queen would be “with him every step of the way, every minute, every moment”.
Hundreds of thousands of people have descended on London to bid farewell to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, with people from all walks of life queuing for hours to file past her coffin.
Biden followed other world leaders in appearing on a balcony overlooking the coffin in the historic Westminster Hall, making a sign of the cross and placing his hand on his heart. French President Emmanuel Macron also appeared on the balcony.
The US president later joined Charles and other leaders for an evening reception ahead of the state funeral.