Mahendra Chaudhry [left] and Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has joined many in paying tribute to Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II.
In a statement, Chaudhry says the Queen was held in high esteem and with deep affection by our people as a beloved matriarch who, for the last seven decades, signified peace and continuity in the face of the traumatic changes we have undergone as a nation.
Chaudhry recalls being only 11 when the Queen ascended to the throne.
He says little did he know then that one day he would have the privilege of having lunch with Her Majesty, seated right next to her.
This was on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Durban, South Africa, in 1999, when he was Prime Minister.
Chaudhry says he was invited to lunch along with five other Pacific Island leaders.
The FLP Leader says during this close encounter, the Queen was charming and friendly throughout, which appeared to have been carefully planned to reflect the values of healthy eating.
Chaudhry says the monarch will be mourned the world over, for she was seen as a mother figure by most world leaders.