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Commonwealth : Passing of Queen Elizabeth II, 21 African countries lose their queen 

The world’s most famous monarch passed away at the age of 96 on September 8. She, who will remain a legend, will also leave an indelible mark in Africa, a land dear to her heart.

By Mérième Alaoui

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@Commonwealth.org

Flags were flown at half-mast over Buckingham Palace and “God Save the Queen” rang out on the BBC. The most popular monarch on the planet, on September 8, left “peacefully” in her Scottish castle of Balmoral. A global symbol of stability, she has forever marked her country and her century. She knew the greatest people in the world, from Nehru to Charles de Gaulle or Mandela, she was served by 15 prime ministers, met 12 American presidents, all the French presidents of the Fifth Republic… As soon as her death was announced, tributes and condolences from heads of state all over the world have not stopped pouring in. Not to mention cultural figures, business leaders and millions of anonymous people. 

An “extraordinary world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life” Cyril Ramaphosa

On the continent, Macky Sall, the Senegalese head of state and current president of the African Union (AU), saluted “the memory of the illustrious deceased, who had an exceptional career”. For his part, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to an “extraordinary world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life. Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by many around the world.”

1962-1962 Her Majesty The Queen with the Commonwealth Heads of Government-Commonwealth.org

Queen Elizabeth II was very attached to Africa, where she travelled more than twenty times. In February 1947, she discovered the continent during a trip to Rhodesia and South Africa. But it was surely her trip in 1952, which remained forever marked in her memory. Then princess, on tour in Kenya, it was on February 6 that she learned of the premature death of her father King George VI. She became queen at the age of 25. Two years later, as sovereign, her first trip was to Libya. She then went to Ghana in 1961 before proceeding, accompanied by her Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to the signing of the Lukasa Manifesto, which condemned South African apartheid, in Zambia in 1974.. She did not return to South Africa to see her “friend” Mandela (one of the only people to call her by her first name) until 1995, on the occasion of the end of apartheid. 

“She became the Commonwealth psychotherapist”

@Commonwealth.org

Each trip to Africa was an opportunity to forge new ties to strengthen the commonwealth which she cherished a lot. “She became the Commonwealth psychotherapist” joked her late husband, Prince Philip. The organization, born in the first half of the 20th century from the remnants of the British Empire, to maintain privileged relations with its former colonies, seeks to modernize and regain its influence in Africa as well as on the international scene. When Elizabeth II came to power in 1952, it was composed of only four member countries. It was she who used her legendary diplomacy to maintain close ties with these countries, after their decolonization. This is in order to facilitate economic exchanges, in particular.

“The queen is dead, long live to the king”  

She did not, however, participate, because of her fragile health, in the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held last in Kigali. The event had not been held in Africa since Uganda, a decade ago. This was a first for Rwanda, a formerly French-speaking country that joined the Commonwealth in 2009. Among the 56 countries, Africans are the best represented with 21 member countries, including Gabon and Togo, which have no historical ties with the United Kingdom and joined this year. 

They now all lose their queen, head of the Commonwealth … But “the queen is dead, long live to the king” say the tradition. It is now Prince Charles, proclaimed King of Great Britain, who takes the head of the organization.

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