‘The Sun Has Set on a Most Extraordinary Reign’, Says Secretary-General, Paying Tribute to Queen Elizabeth at General Assembly
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the General Assembly’s tribute to the memory of Queen Elizabeth II, in New York today:
The sun has set on a most extraordinary reign. We are here today to pay tribute to the memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Queen Elizabeth was a pillar without peer on the world stage for more than 70 years. She acceded to the throne in a different age: the era of Churchill, Truman, Stalin, Mao and De Gaulle. A reassuring and inspiring presence, she was an anchor of stability across decades of often turbulent history.
The first part of her remarkable reign saw many nations gaining independence from Britain and the formation of the Commonwealth, a diverse multilateral group. Commonwealth members are among the most steadfast supporters of the United Nations, and we mourn with them also today. Visiting South Africa to mark its readmittance to the Commonwealth after the fall of apartheid, the Queen spoke of how faith could move mountains and recreate a nation.
We join together today in this global assembly to honour her life and legacy. On behalf of the United Nations, I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the Queen’s bereaved family, the Government and people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the wider Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth defied geopolitical gravity. She was a consummate diplomat, and she often wielded her diplomatic skills as the only woman in the room.
When our institution and Queen Elizabeth were both young, she stood at this very podium and called on leaders to demonstrate their devotion to the ideals of the United Nations Charter.
She well understood that formal bonds and agreements are only half the story. International cooperation also depends on the strengths of our personal commitment; on our dedication as leaders to the principles of peace, justice and human rights. At thousands of public appearances, Queen Elizabeth spoke of friendship and strong ties between nations. She supported hundreds of global causes that are at the heart of our work.
For seven decades, Queen Elizabeth transcended her role to connect at the most human level with everyone she met — world leaders and ordinary people alike. And for that, she was among the most respected and loved global leaders of our age. Queen Elizabeth’s passing will be deeply felt, particularly for those who knew and loved her best.
Her legacy is an inspiring example of leadership that serves. In her last address in this Hall, 12 years ago, Queen Elizabeth said that over the course of her own life, the United Nations “moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good”. She concluded: “In tomorrow’s world, we must work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations.”
Queen Elizabeth II herself worked as hard as ever until her final hours. Let’s honour her by working as hard as ever to be truly United Nations.