Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday at the age of 96. The flowers for her funeral will apparently be shipped from Turkiye. This is not as unusual as it first seems. In 2008, on her first visit to Turkiye in more than 30 years, the Queen delivered a speech at a state banquet in her honor. “Turkey,” she said, “is uniquely positioned as a bridge between East and West at a crucial time for the European Union and the world at large…and plays a key role in promoting peace, political stability and economic development. in some of the world’s most troubled areas.”
The background of Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Turkiye is interesting. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch used to value Turkiye’s historic sites. On the last day of her visit, she and her late husband Prince Philip toured the Bosphorus by boat, accompanied by then-Turkish President Abdullah Gül and his wife Hayrunnia Ozyurt. The royal couple also visited the Istanbul Modern Museum and Kabatas High School in Ortaköy, where they attended a science project event.
In a small but important example of sports diplomacy, during her visit to Turkiye in 2008, Queen Elizabeth gave a football autographed by English star David Beckham to a Turkish boy during a garden party celebrating her birthday at the British Embassy in Ankara. The monarch was joined at the party by then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine.
In his book The Sultan and the Queen: The untold story of Elizabeth and Islam (2016) Jerry Brotton revealed the connection between the Tudor queen and the Ottoman Empire. Elizabeth Tudor tried to build alliances with the great powers of the Muslim world. She sent an emissary to the Shah of Iran, lured the king of Morocco to court, and entered into an unprecedented alliance with the Ottoman sultan Murad III (1546-1595), “a fellow monotheist”, against the “idolatrous” Roman Catholic king of Spain. Queen Elizabeth II visited Bursa Ulu Mosque in 2008 out of respect for Turkiye’s Ottoman past.
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In addition, she paid tribute to the founder of the Republic of Turkiye: “It is a great honor for me to pay my respects to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a friend of the United Kingdom who is highly regarded as one of the greatest personalities in modern history .”
Now, less than a week after the Queen’s death, the Turkish people continue to show their respect for her. A hotel in Antalya demonstrated this by playing the British national anthem for its guests.
— L.A. Matthews (@TheLAMatthews) September 8, 2022
According to official sources, President Erdogan will attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral next Monday. As soon as news of her death reached him, Erdogan expressed his deepest condolences to the royal family, people and government of the United Kingdom.
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