Dignitaries remember Queen Mother
LONDON, England -- Tributes were pouring in for Britain's Queen Mother from political leaders, religious figures and charity workers, who spoke of her strong sense of duty as well as warmth and love of life.
The Prince of Wales and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, led the tributes by saying they were "completely devastated" after being informed of the news on their skiing holiday in Switzerland.
Prince Charles was told after returning to his hotel from the slopes at Klosters at 4.30 p.m., 75 minutes after her death at Windsor Castle, near London. Prince Charles told his children after ushering them into his bedroom at the Walserhof.
Prime Minister Tony Blair led the nation's tributes, saying the Queen Mother had been a symbol of Britain's "decency and courage."
He said that the entire nation would join her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Royal Family in mourning her death.
"During her long and extraordinary life, her grace, her sense of duty and her remarkable zest for life made her loved and admired by people of all ages and backgrounds, revered within our borders and beyond," he said.
Australian Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, Queen Elizabeth II's envoy, said on Sunday he had sent the nation's condolences to Britain's royal family.
"Born five months before (Australia's) federation as a nation, there is a very real way in which we can say that 'She has always been with us'," Hollingworth said in a statement.
Britain's opposition Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith described the Queen Mother as a "truly remarkable lady" whose life spanned the entire 20th century.
"The Queen Mother radiated warmth and charm with a sense of fun that captivated everyone who met her."
Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher said the Queen Mother had been "a wonderful Queen and an extraordinary person."
"Her death is more than a source of grief to the Royal Family. It is an irreplaceable loss to the whole nation," she said.
Former Tory prime minister John Major said: "Our country is the richer for her life and the poorer at her death."
The government is in discussions with the House of Commons speaker and other political parties about a date for the recall of Parliament so respects can be paid, Downing Street said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, leader of the Church of England, remembered the Queen Mother's "grace."
"We are all the poorer because this gracious lady has been taken from us.
"Her unfailing dignity, devotion to duty and charm have been a precious part of our national life for as long as most of us can remember."
He added: "She had a deep and sustaining faith and lived her life in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life; a resurrection which we celebrate at this Eastertide. Christian love shone through her character."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, said: "The Queen Mother bore the virtues so beloved by the British people of courage and steadfastness."
Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke's Peerage, said: "After the sadness has subsided, the question will be whether the monarchy can continue without the Queen Mother.
"She has kept it in one piece almost single-handedly for a long time in spite of all its problems.
"This is certainly the day that the House of Windsor and the nine remaining European monarchies have dreaded."
'Always a smile'
The chairwoman of Sandringham Womens' Institute, of which the Queen Mother was president, described her as "warm, enthusiastic and fantastic".
"She was such an example to everyone in the way she acted in her life, she was good and kind and caring," said Yvonne Browne. "She had a lovely smile and wave, no matter how she was feeling inside."
Gordon Lishman, of Age Concern, said: "Many older people remember her, particularly during the (Second World) War.
"She was a beacon of light during very dark times when she and the late king visited the East End of London after it had been bombed.
"Many older people in this country will be very sad to lose such a special and wonderful person."
Sir Michael Oswald, Her Majesty's racing manager, said: "She was a superb loser as well as a wonderful winner.
"I'll remember her with enormous happiness because her whole feeling about racing, and life in general, was that it should be fun."
Christopher Spence, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: "Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was a wonderful supporter of racing. She made a remarkable and lasting contribution as an owner, breeder and racegoer.
"Racing will remember her with greatest affection."
Saturday night's National Lottery draw was not being shown live on television as a mark of respect.
All Easter Monday football fixtures will go ahead, but a minute's silence will be observed and players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.
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