Colombo: Sri Lanka, a former British colony, has declared a special holiday and a day of mourning on September 19 in lieu of the funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II.
Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs announced the government holiday and directed that the national flag be hoisted at half-mast until the said date.
The UK’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II who died at the age of 96 on September 8, after reigning for 70 years was Sri Lanka’s head of state until 1972, the year the island nation became a republic, fully freed from the British sovereign.
The late queen visited Sri Lanka in 1954 and 1981 and later she was represented by the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, when he visited the island nation in 1998, 2004 and 2013.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the British High Commission in Colombo to sign the book of condolence.
“She was a symbol of stability and endurance, and she will be greatly missed. My heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the UK and the Commonwealth,” President Wickremesinghe said in a tweet.
Britain, which conquered the island nation from the Dutch and took over the entire country in 1815 ruled until February 4, 1948.