9 Sep 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'She was extraordinary'

11:50 am on 9 September 2022
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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid tribute to the Queen Elizabeth II.

Watch the PM speaking here:

The UK's longest-serving monarch died this morning at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.

Ardern says the Queen's commitment to her role and to all of us has been without question and unwavering.

"The last days of the Queen's life captures who she was in so many ways, working to the very end on behalf of the people she loved.

"This is a time of deep sadness. Young or old, there is no doubt that a chapter is closing today, and with that we share our thanks for an incredible woman who we were lucky enough to call our Queen," Ardern says.

"She was extraordinary.

"She was a woman who worked into her 90s, I think despite the fact there had been some discussion in public around her health and wellbeing, I think despite that, there will be some shock."

Ardern says she was woken early to be given the news: "I had a police officer shine a torch into my room at about 4.50am this morning."

"When that torch light came into my room I knew immediately what it meant."

What stood out for Ardern most was the level of knowledge and care the Queen had for New Zealand, she said.

The prime minister recalled gifting the Queen a picture from a visit to New Zealand about 50 years prior, where she was captured laughing in the back of the vehicle.

"I did not for a moment expect her to recall anything of the moment that photo was taken.

"Not only could she remember the visit she could remember what was making her laugh.

"It was the informality - she was travelling around the country with the prime minister of the day and they kept yelling out his nickname as they drove around and I think she found it endearing ... hearing New Zealanders yell out to their prime minister in that way."

Representatives from New Zealand, including herself and the Governor-General, were likely to go to the state funeral in the UK, expected to be held in about 10 days, Ardern said.

Earlier, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement saying, on the death of the Queen, the person first in line to the Throne immediately and automatically becomes Sovereign in accordance with the laws of succession, and therefore Head of State of New Zealand.

"At present, this means His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will become King of New Zealand."

Ardern says she has spoken to King Charles many times and he has a commitment to the environment and children and she knows he will have a good relationship with NZ.

"The King, like his mother, has a deep love for New Zealand."

The Prime Minister's Office says all decisions will be made by the prime minister but the current planning includes:

  • A period of national mourning starts immediately following the announcement of the Queen's death and will continue until after the New Zealand State Memorial Service. The New Zealand service would happen after the Queen's funeral in the UK - likely to be about day 10 following her death.
  • The New Zealand flag will be flown at half-mast from the announcement of the death up to and including the day of the funeral, except on Proclamation Day - the day the new Sovereign is announced officially when flags are to be flown from the top of the mast.
  • Condolence books will likely be opened at Parliament and the National Library, as they were following the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and by local councils around the country.
  • There will be gun salutes
  • Places will be designated for members of the public to leave flowers

New Zealanders will receive full information and updates at the time via the Governor-General's website, it said.

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