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

Special to BenarNews
2022.09.08
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An image of Queen Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, is seen at Piccadilly Circus in London after she died aged 96, according to Buckingham Palace, Sept. 8, 2022. [Andrew Boyers/Reuters]

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Two British Royal Navy sailors carry a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II through HMS Tamar, the British Forces’ Hong Kong headquarters, on June 16, 1997, two weeks prior to the British territory’s handover to Chinese rule. [Stephen Shaver/AFP]

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Queen Elizabeth II watches a Chinese Lion Dance troop perform during her visit to the Toa Payoh Housing Development Board estate in Singapore, March 17, 2006. [Wong Maye-e/pool/Reuters]

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Queen Elizabeth II tours Malaysia’s Shah Alam mosque, Southeast Asia’s largest, with the mosque’s architect Baharuddin Abu Kassim, Oct. 14, 1989. [Toru Yamanaka/AFP]

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II shares a joke with Malaysian young people lining the route as she walks around Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, Feb. 23, 1972. [Max Nash/AP]

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Queen Elizabeth II greets then-Indonesian Vice President Bacharuddin Habibie at Buckingham Palace, April 3, 1998. [Jonathan Evans/pool/AFP]

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Queen Elizabeth II sits with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a state banquet at the Grand Palace in Bangkok to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bhumibol’s accession to the throne, Oct. 28, 1996. [Reuters]

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Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese President Xi Jinping travel in a horse-drawn Diamond Jubilee State Coach to Buckingham Palace in London, Oct. 20, 2015. [Alastair Grant/pool/AFP]

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People gather at Buckingham Palace in London where the union flag flies at half-staff in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, Sept. 8, 2022. [Daniel Leal/AFP]

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. 

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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