Royal Death Won't Delay U.S.-U.K. Summit
London (CNSNews.com) - The British parliament will be recalled before the end of the current Easter break due to the death of the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, a Downing Street spokesman said.
The death of the Queen Mother, however, will not delay planned talks between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush this weekend. Potential military action against Iraq will top the agenda when the two leaders meet at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
In a special parliamentary session Wednesday, the leaders of the U.K.'s major political parties will pay tribute to the 101-year-old Queen Mother, who died in her sleep Saturday.
Although born into a wealthy aristocratic family, the Queen Mother was considered a commoner and thus was never eligible to reign as the British sovereign. In 1923, she married the future King George VI - then Duke of York - and became queen consort when George was crowned in 1937.
The Queen Mother won widespread support for her morale-building trips into London's bombed-out slums during World War II. She insisted on staying in the British capital throughout the war despite German bombing raids, one of which targeted Buckingham Palace. Upon George's death in 1952, her daughter Elizabeth became queen and she was given the honorary title of Queen Mother.
In the ensuing years, the Queen Mother became the most popular member of the British royal family, largely by staying above the divorces, affairs and other scandals that dogged her descendants. She was weakened by a respiratory infection last December and never fully recovered.
Her death was the second to hit the royal family this year, which has been earmarked for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. The queen's sister, Princess Margaret, died in February.
A series of 41-gun salutes rang out across Britain on Monday, and the bells at St. Paul's Cathedral, one of England's most revered churches, were rung in a rare tribute. A period of national mourning was declared until April 9.
Parliament is only recalled from recess in times of extreme national crisis or importance. The last recall came in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
The Queen Mother will lie in state this weekend before her burial in Westminster Abbey.
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