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The Commonwealth marks the loss of a figurehead, a link to the past

Sydney (AFP) – As Britain mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, a series of dominions, kingdoms and former colonies marked the loss of a common figurehead and an irreplaceable link to an era that has come to an end. quickly fades.

Although she is 96, the Queen’s death came as an emotional jolt felt from Africa to the Pacific.

“Papua New Guineans in the mountains, valleys and coasts woke up this morning to hear that our Queen was brought to rest by God,” Prime Minister James Marape told his country.

“She was the anchor of our Commonwealth and for PNG we affectionately call her ‘Mama Queen,'” he said, just one of dozens of moving tributes that poured in from once colorful countries in pink on the cards.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern read about her monarch’s poor health before going to bed.

A “police officer shined a torch in my room around 10:00 this morning… I knew immediately what that meant”.

“I am deeply saddened,” she added, fondly recalling conversations about parenting in the spotlight.

Across the Pacific in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Queen will ‘forever remain an important part’ of his country’s history, but also offered personal stories that went beyond statements suffocating.


“She was one of my favorite people in the world,” he said. “I will miss these talks so much.”

Most of Britain’s former colonies have completely transformed since the fresh-faced Elizabeth Windsor ascended the throne in 1953.

India’s population at that time was around 380 million – down from 1.4 billion today – British forces brutally suppressed the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya, and New Zealand subject Edmund Hillary was making the first successful ascent of Mount Everest with his long-unrecognized Nepali partner, Tenzing. norgay.

For many, Elizabeth II represented one of the few remaining links with this fading era of empire, with “the old country”, with an intertwined history or the shared sacrifice of a savage world war.

India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled Elizabeth II by showing her a handkerchief given to her by independence hero Mahatma Gandhi at his wedding.

“I will always cherish this gesture,” he wrote on Twitter. “She personified dignity and decency in public life. Saddened by her passing.”

“Cannot be replaced”

The death of Elizabeth II inevitably raised questions about whether the bonds forged in colonialism and sustained by the personal charisma of a petty monarch can endure.


The Queen had been a “driving force” in the Commonwealth, said Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations at the King’s India Institute in London.

The bloc of 56 countries – mostly former British colonies – spans Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, and includes 15 kingdoms where Elizabeth II was still head of state.

“So what’s happening to this Commonwealth now?” Will he survive in the future? Pant asked.

In Sydney, Maya Munro, 20, said the Queen was both an “incredible figurehead” and an example, especially for women.

But, like many young Australians, she imagines “a very different role” for the monarchy in the future.

“I think the Queen has been the monarchy for so long. And she’s brought her so much respect and history and honour,” she said.

“I think it’s just that it plays a different role in our lives these days. Maybe we’re moving away from the monarchy now.”

In Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, Warwick Murray, 50, said “politicians come and go, but someone like Queen Elizabeth cannot be replaced”.

“The fact that she was above politics and could really rally positivity means I have deep admiration for her.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – an avowed Republican – sought to deflect questions about the future head of state by declaring 10 days of mourning.


Instead, he paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s “timeless decency”, saying her death marked the “end of an era”.

“A historic reign and a long life of duty, family, faith and service have come to an end,” he said.

“Today is a day for one question, and one question only, which is to pay homage.”

Even in places where the legacy of colonialism is still raw, rulers have focused on the attributes of women, rather than the baggage of their role.

“The history of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth II, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader,” President Muhammadu Buhari said.

“She has dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the whole world a better place.”

Zimbabwe’s president, who stepped down from the Commonwealth in 2003 after it was suspended on human rights grounds and endured decades of frosty relations with his former colonial ruler, offered his own sympathies to the British public.

“May she rest in peace,” wrote President Emmerson Mnangagwa.