North country reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth II

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WATERTOWN — Sadness and sympathy swept from Europe to the north country Thursday upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch died Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle, the queen’s summer residence in Scotland, after more than 70 years on the throne. She was 96.

The royal family’s official website posted that she died “peacefully.”

“I thought she was a beautiful woman,” said Watertown resident Jessica Lewis. “She was a good woman.”

Ms. Lewis thought of Queen Elizabeth as being “very friendly, very kind.”

“It’s very sad,” said Cindy Tavani, another city resident.

Tanisha Carr, a Watertown resident, said she couldn’t believe it when she heard the queen had died.

“I didn’t think that lady was going to ever pass,” she said. “She’s been on TV since I’ve been a little, little kid.”

The queen’s visit to Massena in 1959 drew more than 100,000 people. It was the first time a British monarch visited Northern New York. She traveled with Prince Philip, Vice President Richard M. Nixon and other U.S. and Canadian dignitaries to mark the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway locks. A Watertown Daily Times story on her visit described the “symbolic ritual” as a way for the U.S. and Canada to reaffirm its friendship astride the international boundary.

Those younger than 70 only know Queen Elizabeth as the head of state in the monarchy.

Elizabeth, then 25, became queen on Feb. 6, 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. Her formal coronation took place on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey.

The British monarchy’s rules state that “a new sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies.” In the line of succession, Prince Charles, the queen’s eldest son, automatically becomes monarch.

Shara Leandry, a city resident, called Queen Elizabeth “a beautiful woman,” and said she would like to see some of the queen’s personality traits in the new king.

Watertown resident Ronald Hirschey said Queen Elizabeth reminded him of his mother.

“She looked like my mother,” he said.

Arthur Milnes, former political speech writer and a public historian in Kingston, Ontario, said it was difficult to imagine this day coming.

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