White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre appeared momentarily stunned after finding out Queen Elizabeth II had died while in the middle of a press briefing.
The Queen, who died September 8 at the age of 96, was Great Britain's longest serving monarch, only recently celebrating her 70th year on the throne.
The Queen had been in declining health for some time, but the world responded in shock after Buckingham Palace—the London royal residence and administrative headquarters for the monarchy—announced she was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle after doctors expressed concern and then a very short while later confirmed she had passed.
Given the very short turnaround between these two events, it is perhaps unsurprising Jean-Pierre—who is responsible for collecting information about actions and events within Democratic President Joe Biden's administration and issues the administration's reactions to developments around the world—appeared shocked after multiple reporters informed her in the middle of the briefing.
You can see her reaction in the video below.
After reporters called out the news and were able to confirm to Jean-Pierre what had transpired, she issued hasty condolences, saying she did not want to "get ahead" of whatever President Biden would have to say on the matter.
“So, as I said earlier, you know, our hearts and our thoughts go to the family members of the queen, goes to the people of the United Kingdom."
"I don’t want to get ahead of what the president is going to say. I want him to, from you all to hear from him first. And so I don’t want to get ahead of that."
“And, I said this earlier, our relationship with the people of the United Kingdom ― and this is something that the president has said himself ― has grown stronger and stronger."
"And it is one of our, the United Kingdom is one of our closest allies.”
Jean-Pierre then concluded the briefing.
Biden did later issue a tribute to the monarch, calling her “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity” who “defined an era" before offering his condolences and best wishes to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
The moment Jean-Pierre found out the Queen died quickly went viral, underscoring the international reaction to the death of a woman who had for years represented stability in a rapidly evolving world.
Jean-Pierre was praised for responding quickly and calmly.
Queen Elizabeth died just months after her Platinum Jubilee, which celebrated her 70 years on the throne.
The news of her passing came just two days after meeting Liz Truss, who won the 2022 Conservative Party leadership election, becoming the U.K.'s newest Prime Minister after Boris Johnson resigned amid a government crisis.
The Queen, long known and respected for her stateliness and vigor, saw her health sharply decline after her husband, the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99 in April 2021.
The two had been married for 75 years.
The Queen's son, Charles III, is now the King of the U.K. and the 14 Commonwealth realms since the death of his mother though his ascension has done little—if anything—to endear him to the British public. Questions about the future and relevance of the monarchy persist, particularly as none of the royals enjoy even a hint of the late Queen's popularity.
Support for the monarchy remained consistently high under Elizabeth's reign but has noticeably faltered over the last decade in the wake of several high-profile controversies.