Asia

Queen Elizabeth II’s memorable moments in Asia during her 70-year reign

Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who died Thursday at the age of 96, was a widely respected global figure, including in Asia.

During her 70 years on the throne, the queen presided over the sunset of the British Empire, but she also commanded deep respect.

The record of her meetings with Asian leaders reads like a Who’s Who of the region’s modern history since World War II.

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Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Indonesia’s Suharto, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and China’s Xi Jinping are just a few of the national leaders she visited in Asia or hosted at Buckingham Palace.

As British monarch, Queen Elizabeth served as head of the Commonwealth of former British colonies, and visited many of those countries multiple times.

The Asian members she visited included Bangladesh, which she visited in 1983; Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, which she first visited in 1972; India and Pakistan, which she first visited in 1961; the Maldives; and Sri Lanka, which she visited in 1954, just two years after she took the throne on the death of her father George VI.

She also frequently traveled to far-flung Pacific island nations that are in the Commonwealth, such as Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Samoa. Additionally, she was hosted in Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Her 1986 six-day visit to China was the first ever by a British monarch to the country. She visited the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Great Wall, and reaffirming the British commitment to return Hong Kong to China.

That commitment was fulfilled in July 1997, when Hong Kong transferred from British rule back to Beijing, a significant geopolitical development that was seen as a final death knell of the British Empire.

Queen Elizabeth’s last visit to Asia was in 2006, when she was hosted by President S.R. Nathan in Singapore as head of the British Commonwealth.

Her reign straddled the tenure of 15 British prime ministers. The first was Winston Churchill, Britain’s leader during World War II. Her last was Liz Truss, whom the queen met on Tuesday, just two days before her death.

For the vast majority of Britons, she was the only monarch in their lifetime. For citizens around the world, her image is often associated with the rapid decolonization of Britain’s global imperial holdings, but she maintained strong ties with the people and leaders of those countries even after they gained independence.

She took the throne at age 25. She died at 96 at Balmoral Castle, a royal estate in Scotland, surrounded by her children and will be succeeded by her eldest son, 73-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales.

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