Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the world had lost a global matriarch “who was a steadying and constant force throughout many crises and periods of difficulty”.

He said during the course of her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II made an immense contribution to the world in public life and was a close friend of Jamaica. “Undoubtedly, she formed a special bond with the people of Jamaica during her reign, and her visits were met with warm welcome and an outpouring of affection,” he said.

Describing her tenure as Britain’s head of state and across the Commonwealth as transformative and inspiring, Holness said Jamaica would remember her historic reign, which was marked by dutiful and steadfast service.

“As the British Monarchy and Government now initiate ‘Operation London Bridge’ in the wake of her passing, Jamaica joins with the Commonwealth of Nations in expressing our deep and sincere condolence to the Royal Family and the United Kingdom during this time of immeasurable grief,” the prime minister stated.

Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland hailed The Queen as an “extraordinary person, who lived an extraordinary life”, a constant presence and example for all, who had lived a long life of faith, duty and service.

The Commonwealth will “never see her like again”, Scotland said in a statement.

“Her majesty was the epitome of duty, stability, wisdom and grace. Her Majesty loved the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth loved her. Between 1971 and 2018 she missed only one Heads of Government meeting. Her devotion to duty was only matched by her skill as head of the Commonwealth of Nations, always a generous host and consummate diplomat,” Scotland stated.

Crediting the growth and vibrancy of the modern Commonwealth as a testament to The Queen’s dedication, wisdom and leadership, the secretary general noted that in her final Commonwealth Day message, Queen Elizabeth had described the grouping as a “modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth that combines a wealth of history and tradition with the great social, cultural and technological advances of our time”.

She said Queen Elizabeth had honoured the promise she made in 1947, before she ascended to the throne, to dedicate her life to the service of the Commonwealth, whether that life be long, or short.

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P J Patterson said during her reign, Queen Elizabeth had presided with remarkable acuity in the transition from empire to a Commonwealth.

“No one can question her total dedication to duty and the strength of spirit she exuded, whether in times of peril to the British nation or incidents of turmoil in her own family,” he said.

Patterson said from his 14 years as prime minister he recalled her insightfulness and incisive wit, gracefulness, astuteness, and compassion.

“Her name will never be obliterated from the annals of human history because of her critical role and unique style in ensuring that process of evolution and those constant measures of transformation which have characterised the second Elizabethan era,” he stated, extending sympathies to the Royal Family, the UK, and the Commonwealth.Jamaica’s Parliamentary Opposition, the People’s National Party, also expressed regret at the passing of The Queen, noting that during her lifetime, she visited Jamaica six times along with several other members of the Royal Family.

The Mark Golding-led Opposition said many Jamaicans held The Queen in very high esteem. “For many all around the globe, she has been a symbol of decency, stability and continuity,” the party said.

British High Commissioner to Jamaica Judith Slater, meanwhile, lauded The Queen’s 70-year reign as one of dignity and grace, and an extraordinary achievement.

“Even at the age of 96, The Queen remained determined to carry out her duties, receiving new Prime Minister Liz Truss only two days ago,” she Slater said.

She said The Queen had championed the development of the Commonwealth from a small group of seven countries to a family of 56 nations, across every continent, and retained a deep affection for Jamaica throughout her life, starting from her first visit to the island in 1953.

The Royal Commonwealth Society said The Queen’s dedication to the Commonwealth was unparalleled. In a statement, executive chair of the society, Dr Linda Yueh, said: “No one has made a greater contribution to the Commonwealth over the decades than The Queen. As Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty personally reinforced the links by which this unique network brings peoples and countries from around the globe together in common cause. Her life and tireless efforts will forever be linked to this voluntary association of 56 independent and equal, sovereign states, which encompass over 2.5 billion people, and to whom The Queen displayed an unwavering dedication.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne shortly after the Second World War and was the United Kingdom’s longest-ever reigning monarch. She visited Jamaica in 1953, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1994 and 2002, and participated in Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings, and sittings of the Houses of Parliament.

She was Jamaica’s head of state, represented by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.

Buckingham Palace reported that The Queen passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, surrounded by members of the Royal Family.

— Alphea Sumner

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