NEW YORK – British Prime Minister Liz Truss says the death of Queen Elizabeth II is a “very difficult moment” for the country, and acknowledged that dealing with it has been a challenge for her untested new government.
Truss took office just two days before the queen died on Sept. 8, and the first days of her term have been spent attending memorial services and the funeral of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Truss has had to temporarily set aside her policy plans, and said she was “focused on making sure we as a nation mourn her late majesty and welcome King Charles.”
“It has been a momentous period and a period of great grief and sadness in the United Kingdom, and I think you have seen a huge outpouring of love and affection for her late majesty as well as a huge amount of warmth towards King Charles III,” Truss told reporters late Monday as she flew to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
“At the funeral we saw such huge public support and I have also seen that from world leaders who have come to London in unprecedented numbers,” she said.
Truss won a Conservative Party leadership contest on Sept. 5 and was formally appointed prime minister by the queen the next day at Balmoral Castle. Elizabeth died at her beloved Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands on Sept. 8, aged 96.
Truss said she was “hugely honored” to have been appointed by the queen in one of the monarch’s final acts.
With the queen's death, the new prime minister had to put her policy plans on hold during 10 days of national mourning. She said that since the queen died she had had “the most tremendous support” from civil servants, royal staff and the armed forces who worked on the long-rehearsed plans for the monarch's passing and its aftermath.
“What has been a very difficult moment for our nation, the way it has been handed is tremendous,” Truss said.
“I just feel it’s a very important part of my role as prime minister to make sure that we are marking this very important moment in our nation’s history.”
Britain’s usually rancorous politics, put on pause by the monarch’s death, are due to resume this week. Truss is spending two days at the U.N. trying to build bridges and shore up Western support for Ukraine.
Then on Friday, U.K. Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng is due to give an emergency budget statement with details of how the government plans to tackle soaring energy prices and surging inflation.