S’pore, UK share 200 years of history, Queen’s death a profound loss: President Halimah

Queen Elizabeth visited Singapore for the first time on Feb 18, 1972. She was escorted by then President Benjamin Sheares. PHOTO: NANYANG (S)
PM Lee with the Queen during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in 2018. PHOTO: LEE HSIEN LOONG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore and the United Kingdom share two centuries of history and Queen Elizabeth II’s death is a profound loss, said President Halimah Yacob on Friday.

In a Facebook post, the President said: “Deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty was a symbol of unity, greatly loved and trusted by people from across the Commonwealth. She pledged her life to service and will be remembered for her grace, warmth, and wit.”

In a separate Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Queen Elizabeth left a significant mark on Singapore's history and ties with the United Kingdom.

PM Lee said: "On behalf of the Singapore Government, I extend my sincerest condolences to King Charles III and all members of the royal family, Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss and the British people."

He added: "Deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty was the heart and soul of the United Kingdom... Her passing is greatly mourned by everyone in Singapore."

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement: “As a mark of respect, state flags at all government buildings will be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral. Parliament will observe one minute of silence at the beginning of its sitting on Monday, Sept 12, 2022."

On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth, who was Britain's longest-reigning monarch, died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96.

Former president Tony Tan Keng Yam recalled welcoming the Queen to Singapore in 1989 and representing the Republic on the first state visit to Britain by a Singapore president in 2014.

"The Queen was a most gracious host, and we hold her in great respect," he said. "She was a source of continuity in a changing and sometimes volatile world. The Queen’s dedication in putting country above self is exemplary and will always remain an inspiration to all."

In his post on Friday, PM Lee shared a photo of him shaking hands with the Queen during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in 2018.

PM Lee said: "Her Majesty's reign saw one of the longest periods of peace and prosperity in the history of the United Kingdom. Throughout her life, she steadfastly served the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth."

At her death, the Queen was head of state of not only the United Kingdom but also of Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

"Her contributions to the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and indeed to the world will be recorded in history, and she will always be remembered fondly as a great world leader," said PM Lee.

In a Facebook post, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said that Queen Elizabeth's death marked the end of an era. Recalling how he had grown up collecting stamps that bore her silhouette, Mr Tan said: "She was a monarch much loved and respected by many in her country and beyond."

 

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said in a Facebook post: “As Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and head of state, Her Majesty had dedicated her long life to serving her country and was widely admired for her grace, dignity and dedication.”

DPM Heng Swee Keat said that Singapore had the honour of hosting the Queen on three state visits - in 1972, 1989 and 2006. He added: "Her Majesty will always be remembered for her grace, steadfast dedication and lifetime of service over the past 70 years."

Workers’ Party MP He Ting Ru recounted meeting the Queen in 1989 at Ang Mo Kio Town Centre when she was six years old. 

“I still remember being just six when my mum picked me up after school and told my sister and me that we were going to see the Queen,” she said. 

“I hastily handed her the flower, and awkwardly dipped a curtsy to welcome her to Singapore - you can just about see my attempt here in the photo,” she added, referring to a photo she posted on Facebook of her looking at the Queen who was cradling a bouquet.

Ms He said: “She was gracious and warm to two little girls who went away with a deep impression that girls, too, could be heads of state and guests of honour, and that we too, could have a place among important men who decided big things.”

The British High Commission is opening a condolence book to the public from 9am to noon on Sept 10 and from Sept 12 to 16.

PM Lee signed the condolence book at Eden Hall in Nassim Road, on Friday. It is the official residence of the British High Commissioner Kara Owen.  

In a statement, the British Chamber of Commerce said it is deeply saddened to learn of Queen Elizabeth's death.

It said: "A strong supporter of business throughout her reign, the Queen embodied everything it means to be British - humble, modest, determined, proud, empathetic and, above all, patriotic."

The business body added: "For many of us, Her Majesty has been our ruling monarch throughout our lives and her loss will leave a hole in our hearts."

Conveying its condolences to the British royal family, the British Club Singapore said that it has opened a condolence book for its members to sign at its clubhouse in Bukit Timah.

Following Queen Elizabeth's death, her son King Charles, has become the monarch of the United Kingdom.

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