AUSTIN (KXAN) — After seven decades serving on the throne, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II passed away Thursday at the age of 96.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” read a post from The Royal Family. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Buckingham Palace said earlier in the day the Queen was under medical supervision, because doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health.”
She took over the throne in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. Now her son, Prince Charles, 73, will become king.
In May 1991, the Queen visited Austin and other cities across the Lone Star State alongside Prince Philip, who died in April 2021. They made stops in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.
Thursday, Luci Banes Johnson, daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, reminisced about the Queen’s visit to the library named in her late father’s honor.
She recalls feeling in awe of the Queen and her graceful manner, as well as feeling starstruck when she sat briefly next to Prince Philip. She regards the passing of the monarch a loss to be grieved by many.
“I just remember feeling a sense that I was a part of history. I was in their wake, telling them that I knew they belonged to Great Britain but really they belonged to the world,” said Johnson.
Margaret Justus, a former press secretary for Gov. Ann Richards, also remembers the Queen’s visit to Austin. She says Gov. Richards was still transitioning into office when Buckingham Palace called to arrange her visit.
Justus says the Queen and her staff were humble and easy to coordinate plans with, and recalls Prince Philip marveling at how many women were in powerful state leadership roles at the time. She believes that played a part in the Queen choosing to visit the state 30 years ago.
“I just thought she was incredibly friendly and yet dignified,” said Justus. “They were enamored with Texas and I think they were just delighted that Ann was there to host them and greet them.”
Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement shortly after news of her death was released, calling her “one of the greatest leaders in history.” You can read the full statement from Abbott below.
“The First Lady and I are truly saddened to hear of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and our hearts and prayers go out to her family and the entire United Kingdom as they grieve the loss of one of the greatest leaders in history. In her unrivaled, impressive reign as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen Elizabeth II led her people, and at times the world, through historic events with the utmost dignity, grace, and valor. Queen Elizabeth II was also more than a leader of one of the greatest monarchies in history and a close United States ally; she was a mother, a grandmother, and a wife who showed a deep devotion to her family and to her nation. The entire world is better to have had a strong, steady leader like Queen Elizabeth II, and we are forever honored to have had her as an ally to the United States and to Texas.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson sent his condolences overseas:
“On behalf of the City of Dallas, I want to send our deepest condolences to the people of the United Kingdom. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a consequential and remarkable world leader — and a friend to our city, where she made an official visit in 1991. We mourn her passing.”
Former President George W. Bush recalled his time knowing Her Majesty.
“Laura and I were honored to have known Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit. Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency. Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our world benefitted from her steady resolve, and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship. Laura and I join our fellow citizens in sending our heartfelt condolences to the Royal family and the British people.”
Senator Ted Cruz released a statement expressing condolences on behalf of himself and his wife Heidi.
Today Heidi and I join the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She faithfully led and served her people for 70 years, and she saw Britain through many of the darkest days in World War II and through many of its greatest triumphs. Her life of steadfast service set an example for leaders around the world.
This story will be updated as more statements from Texas leaders are released.