Flags at half mast across the Pacific as leaders pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth

The late Queen Elizabeth on her first visit to Fiji in December 1953
The late Queen Elizabeth on her first visit to Fiji in December 1953. Image: RNZ Pacific

RNZ Pacific

Flags are flying at half mast across the Pacific and leaders are paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Thursday at the age of 96.

The Queen visited the Pacific multiple times during her 70-year reign, with a visit a few months after her coronation to Fiji and Tonga, in December 1953.

Here are some of the tributes paid so far:

Cook Islands
Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Mark Brown has acknowledged the Queen’s death “with great sadness”.

He said all her people of the Cook Islands would mourn her passing and would miss her greatly.

He said the Queen leaft behind an enormous legacy of dedicated service to her subjects around the world, including Cook Islanders.

All flags in the Cook Islands will be flown at half-mast until further notice, and a memorial service will be held on a date yet to be announced.

A condolence book will be opened for members of the public to sign in the Cabinet Room at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Her reign spanned seven decades and saw her appoint 15 British prime ministers during her tenure. As world leaders came and went — she endured and served her people,” he said.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama tweeted his condolences.

“Fijian hearts are heavy this morning as we bid farewell to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” he said.

“We will always treasure the joy of her visits to Fiji along with every moment that her grace, courage, and wisdom were a comfort and inspiration to our people, even a world away.

Governor of Hawai’i David Ige posted this on Facebook:

“The State of Hawai’i joins the nation and the rest of the world in mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. Many years ago, Hawai’i hosted the Queen at Washington Place.

“Her graciousness and her leadership will always be remembered.

“I’ve ordered that the United States flag and the Hawai’i state flag be flown at half-staff in the State of Hawai’i immediately until sunset on the day of interment as a mark of respect for Queen Elizabeth II.”

Premier Dalton Tagelagi expressed his deepest sadness on the death of “a most extraordinary woman”.

He said her faithfulness to her duties and dedication to her people was the reflection of a most remarkable leader.

Flags will fly at half-mast to mark the Queen’s death.

Papua New Guinea
In a condolence message, Prime Minister James Marape said: “Papua New Guineans from the mountains, valleys and coasts rose up this morning to the news that our Queen has been taken to rest by God.”

He said: “she was the anchor of our Commonwealth and for PNG we fondly call her ‘Mama Queen’ because she was the matriarch of our country as much as she was to her family and her Sovereign realms.

“God bless her Soul as she lays in rest. May God bless also King Charles III. Her Majesty’s people in PNG shares the grief with our King and his family.”

Solomon Islands
MP Peter Kenilorea Jr posted a photograph online of his father, Sir Peter Kenilorea Sr, being knighted by the Queen.

“It was an honour to witness her knighting my late father in 1982. I was 10 and my sister and I were honoured to witness this solemn ceremony at Government House. It was a privilege to meet her.”

French Polynesia President Édouard Fritch said the life of Queen Elizabeth II marked upon “the history of the world”.

The Queen made a stop-over in French Polynesia to refuel with her husband Prince Philip on her way back from Australia in 2002.

The late Queen Elizabeth with Tahiti's then Vice-President Édouard Fritch in 2002
The late Queen Elizabeth with Tahiti’s then Vice-President Édouard Fritch in 2002. Image: La Presidence de la Polynesie.

Fritch, who was Vice-President of the territory at the time, said today:

“My sincere condolences to the family of the Queen and the people of the United Kingdom. May the Queen’s work for peace continue to reassemble the United Nations among the ‘Commonwealth’ and around the British crown. My prayers will join them in this ultimate voyage of their sovereign.”

Fritch reminisced on his time meeting the Queen for an hour when they discussed topics on French Polynesia, the Pacific and the Commonwealth.

Tongan Princess Frederica Tuita made the following statement:

“We join millions of people in sadness after hearing the news of Her Majesty’s passing. She was loved and respected by our family.

“We have so many cherished memories including this one of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with our late grandfather Baron Laufilitonga Tuita. Further right is His late Highness Prince Tu’ipelehake and behind Her Majesty is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

From the Ministry of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs:

“The Ministry mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Through 70 years of dedicated service, the Queen provided stability in a consistently changing world, and deepest condolences are extended to the family and loved ones of the Queen in this time of loss.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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