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Queen Mother Dies at 101

Aired March 30, 2002 - 18:24   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is a sad and somber day in Britain as crowds gather outside Windsor Castle to mourn the death of the Queen Mum, one of Britain's most beloved royals. The Queen Mum, as she was affectionately called, died in her sleep today. She was 101 years old. Unbelievable.

CNN's Richard Quest joins us now from Buckingham Palace with more on her royal legacy -- Richard, I know it's coming up pretty late there. Are people still arriving to drop off flowers at the palace?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, indeed. I'm at Buckingham Palace and behind me crowds, not very large crowds, but it is a cool evening here in London. It's after 11:00 at night. Crowds have been coming to the palace and they're going up to the gates that you can just see behind and on the gates is the official, the formal announcement of the Queen Mother's death.

And basically it says that the queen, with great sadness, announces the death of her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth, and other members of the royal family have been informed. And then just to the side of the palace, that's where people are starting to place flowers and starting to write notes in tribute.

The small bunch of, there's about two or three dozen bunches of flowers there at the moment. But, Carol, I do want to just read one or two of the notes. I made a couple of jottings when I went and had a look. And I think more than anything else they sum up the mood in Britain. Because although the Queen Mother was 101 and had not been in good health, in fact, it was her recent failing health that caused so much concern in the last couple of days, the chronic cough, the bad chest that finally led doctors to be very concerned about her and, indeed, the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II was at her mother's bedside when she passed away.

But it's the comments, I think, that really do sum up why the nation will be so upset at her passing. "The nation's grand has gone," meaning the nation's grandmother has passed away. "A remarkable lady," one person has written. And this is just lovely sentiment from another person who wrote a note with the flowers, "Good night grandma. Thank you for all the good years."

And, Carol, that really is the legacy of the Queen Mother. What the prime minister, Tony Blair, called her enormous sense of duty, her ability to see Britain through the very dark times during the Second World War. The Queen Mother part of this nation's, a fabric of this nation's life for well over 80 years.

And let's not forget, Carol, this is a woman who was born the year before Queen Victoria died. So for her entire life, right the way through the abdication of King Edward, through King George VI and in recent years, the Queen Mother a part of Britain's life. And that's why tonight the nation's grandmother is being mourned.

LIN: Well, Richard, this is a woman, you know, every time I see her, she's got the cute little hat and the lovely gloves and the appropriate coat. But this is a woman who had a lot of fire and spunk and personality, didn't she?

QUEST: No question about it. She knew that after the abdication of King Edward it was going to be up to her and King George VI to restore the confidence in the monarchy and the main thing with King George VI was a weak man. He has a stammer. He wasn't a good public speaker. But it was the Queen Mother, or Queen Elizabeth, as she was then, that really gave him the backbone. And the right the way through all the crises. She was the one that reinforced the sense of tradition and duty.

Now, tonight we know that Prince Charles probably, it may be invidious to say, but probably her favorite grandson, he and Prince William and Prince Harry, they had only just started their skiing holiday in Closters (ph), which perhaps tells us that they didn't expect anything as sudden as the death tonight and this afternoon. They're on their way back to Britain in the next 24 hours.

Other members of the royal family, Princess Ann, the Princess Royal and the Queen there at Windsor Castle. And that's the sad part, or the over riding sad part. The family was only together just a couple of months ago for, of course, the death of Queen Margaret. And all this, Carol, happening when it should be such a happy time for Queen Elizabeth II, this being her golden jubilee year, and those celebrations just two or three months away.

LIN: Yes.

All right, thank you very much, Richard Quest bringing us the very latest from London, England.

The Queen Mum dead at the age of 101.

For more on Britain's beloved Queen Mum, be sure to watch a special edition of CNN's "Larry King Live," "Life of the Queen Mother." That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

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