WASHINGTON — President Biden hailed Queen Elizabeth II as “more than a monarch,” saying in a statement after her death on Thursday that the queen, who was 96, had borne witness to seven decades of “unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.”
The queen, Mr. Biden said, “defined an era.”
White House officials said that the president had been briefed on Thursday morning about the queen’s sudden health concerns, and that he expressed his thoughts to Prime Minister Liz Truss of Britain during a previously scheduled video meeting with allied leaders.
The queen’s death was formally announced shortly after the meeting ended, White House officials said. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, was in the middle of her daily briefing with reporters when the official royal Twitter account reported her death.
“She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection,” he said, “whether they heard her on the radio as a young princess speaking to the children of the United Kingdom, or gathered around their televisions for her coronation, or watched her final Christmas speech or her Platinum Jubilee on their phones.”
“She, in turn, dedicated her whole life to their service,” he said.
Mr. Biden said in his statement that he first met Queen Elizabeth in 1982 during a trip to Britain as a young senator. His most recent meeting came about a year ago, when the president spent time in Cornwall, England, for a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized nations.
After meeting with her at Windsor Castle last June, Mr. Biden said the queen reminded him of his mother “in terms of the look of her and just the generosity.” He said that he didn’t think “she would be insulted” by the comparison.
In his statement, the president recalled the way the queen treated him and his wife, Jill Biden, during that visit, saying that she “charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom.”
Mr. Biden also recalled on Thursday the queen’s visit to Jamestown, Va., in 2007, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English colony in the New World, calling her a stalwart supporter of the United States.
And he wrote that “she stood in solidarity with the United States during our darkest days after 9/11, when she poignantly reminded us that ‘grief is the price we pay for love.’”
Mr. Biden said the queen’s “legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world,” and pledged “continuing a close friendship with the king and the queen consort.”