Death of Queen Elizabeth II: Live updates

(CNN)

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, praising her ability to “keep her finger on the pulse of the people”.

“She loved people. She served them, but she was never satisfied with the need to always understand them,” Blair told CNN’s Christian Amanpour.

Blair served as Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007 and at a difficult time for the monarchy – the death of Princess Diana. She told Amanpour that her reluctance to speak publicly after Diana’s death came from a desire to protect her grandchildren.

“She was a queen but a grandmother and had two young grandchildren, two boys, who were very close to their mother. … So it was difficult for her. But once she understood the need to reach out to the people, people mistook this reticence in her. It was really to look after the children. “It had to do with her willingness to. But when she felt she had to speak, she did … bringing people to her completely,” he said.

“So this is an example in incredibly difficult circumstances where she understood what was needed and did it. That’s what she was. Her first attachment above all else was her duty to the people she governed,” the former prime minister said.

Blair also reminisced about his audience with Queen Elizabeth II and praised her ability to be a “sympathetic ear”.

“She’s very kind and compassionate, empathetic. You know, we’ll have good discussions. She’s someone you can trust, say what you need to say, and listen to what you want to hear,” he said.

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Blair also predicted that King Charles III would “follow in the Queen’s footsteps” in how he would serve as England’s new head of state.

“I think he’s a lot like her,” Blair said. “He is a very dedicated and caring person. So I am personally very confident going forward,” he said.

Blair also said that he doesn’t believe that former causes such as climate activism will be an issue now that he is king.

“I don’t think it’s specifically here [in the UK]”It’s controversial to worry about politically, but I can’t doubt that as the monarch, now as head of state, he will abide by the constitution in a very loyal way,” Blair said.

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