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CNN Live Event/Special

Queen Elizabeth II Dies at the Age of 96. Charles Becomes King; Commonwealth Nations Mourn Queen Elizabeth II. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 09, 2022 - 02:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Becky Anderson at Buckingham Palace. Britain and really the world are feeling the numbness and shock over the sudden death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.

She was the longest reigning monarch in this country and in all of recent history. The dawn is broken here near the palace where people have been coming to pay their respects, share their memories, and just be part of this tremendous moment in time.

The formal notice of Queen Elizabeth's passing was posted on the gates of the palace behind me on Thursday, as part of the royal tradition.


ANDERSON: Church bells have been tolling in the queen's honor across the country, and we are expecting more of that in the coming days. And we will also hear from her oldest son, the new King Charles III, who will address the nation in the coming hours. He and other members of the royal family have rushed to Balmoral in Scotland on Thursday where the queen spent her final days.

She leaves behind a complex legacy, but few can doubt her steadfast dedication to this country, and how much she will be missed. We've been hearing people say, it feels like we've lost a grandmother.

When the news of her death was announced, this was the sight over at Windsor Castle, a double rainbow spreading across the sky, splash of color she might have appreciated. During her 70-year reign, she wore suits with matching hats in every color of the rainbow.

Let's bring in Nic Robertson live for you in Inverness, in Scotland. And Nic, the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, led the tributes, saying, Scotland loved, respected, and admired the queen, although there has been somewhat of a tetchy relationship with the royal family over the years. The queen, of course, died at her residence there, Balmoral, surrounded by her close family. What is the atmosphere right where you are?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, this, of course, is a place that Scotland will have a deep resonance for King Charles as well. Of course, he went to school here not so far away from where we are in Inverness, just along the road towards Aberdeen. I think for many people in Scotland, this will be a sad time as it will be for people across the rest of the country.

You know, I think when we think about the independence movement in Scotland which has gained momentum and there is a current push on by the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, the first ministry in Scotland pushed on for another independence referendum, I think a lot of the angsts and the bitterness and rancor within that debate is often focused on the political leaders in Westminster in London.

And yes, there have been times where perhaps some of the royal family had been a little more out of kilter with the Scots than perhaps the queen will be perceived. The queen is pretty much beloved across the whole nation.

It -- I think what we will see here, however, there will likely be, you know, people who will say, look, it is time to move on and they should really give momentum to this push for an independence referendum.


ROBERTSON: But I think what you're going to see and hear across the whole country really is, and you will hear this in Scotland, let's not forget, when that last independence referendum happened about eight years ago, 55% of the population voted to keep the union, and it is fairly evenly split at the moment. So, a lot of people here will still have very strong and very warm feelings for the queen.

But I think those sentiments are more broadly and more strongly felt south of the border, and in London, people are paying very strong and heartfelt tributes to the queen.

ANDERSON: The crown, of course, has passed immediately to her son, Charles, who is now King Charles III. As we understand it, he is still at Balmoral with close family members. What happens next?

ROBERTSON: Well, King Charles and the queen council will go back to London today. We do know that Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince William, Prince Harry are all at Balmoral right now. We don't know the step-by-step of precisely what they will do.

King Charles will go back to London. He is expected to meet with the prime minister, Liz Truss, today. There will, as you say, be church bells ring across the country in memory of the queen. There will be gun salutes in royal parks in memory of the queen.

The Parliament will be opened today for members of Parliament to come in and pay their tributes and express their condolences about the passing of the queen. We know that at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, there will be a prayer service later in the day. So, these are important things that are going to happen today, but perhaps the most important thing for the country that will happen today is to hear from King Charles III when he speaks to the nation in a televised address later in the afternoon.

ANDERSON: He said his mother's death was the greatest sadness for me and all of my family. And the queen has steered the monarchy through, frankly, extremely turbulent times over 70 years. The death of the empire, the issues that she has had with the family, the highs and lows, as well as the highs and lows for this country as a whole.

What does King Charles III need to say and do next in order to ensure that this country feels its head of state is leading from the front?

ROBERTSON: That sense of leadership is something that he will want to convey. That will be expected. I think we can expect him -- yesterday, the statement from the royal family was very short, very brief, very perfunctory, and to the point of sympathy and sadness and that sense of loss.

And I think, you know, King Charles will find that in the outpourings that we will see across the country, and there will be a cord that will be struck between his and his family's feelings and the feelings of the nation. So, I think some of that perhaps will be expressed or observed within his address today.

But the legacy of his mother and everything that she achieved, it seems to be expected that he would want to pay a deep, warm, and firm tribute to her and not rush ahead the transition that is coming. That naturally happens, that has happened in this country for more than a thousand years, that when one monarch dies, another one immediately steps in.

So, he will want to engage with the nation. He will want to sympathize with the nation's loss, as well as recognize his own and his family's loss, but also give that sense that this is a normal thing and that where he is going and where he wants to go and what's the country to come is going to be a natural progression.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Inverness, Scotland. Let me get you to New Zealand where there is a 21 gun-salute firing 96 rounds in Wellington in New Zealand, a country that is also mourning the queen. The prime minister there, Prime Minister Ardern, suggesting she was an extraordinary woman. Live pictures coming to you from Wellington in New Zealand.


ANDERSON: Well, the outpouring of sympathy and sorrow has been nothing short of tremendous and so, so touching.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the queen's steady grace, courage in her sense of duty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: In a complicated world, her steady grace and resolve brought comfort and strength to us all. Canada is in mourning. She was one of my favorite people in the world, and I will miss her so.



FELIPE VI, KING OF SPAIN (through translator): Queen Elizabeth will be remembered as one of the best queens of all time due to her dignity, sense of duty, courage, and her commitment to her people always and at all times.


ANDERSON: Of course, she was head of state of the U.K. and 14 other countries, including Canada. You just heard there from Justin Trudeau. Flag is flying half-staff at the White House where U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement, remembering the queen as more than a monarch and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, as he said.

And Elton John posted about the queen's inspiring presence, grace, decency, and genuine caring warmth. He wrote that Queen Elizabeth II has been a huge part of his life from childhood to this day, and he will miss her dearly as well as so many, many Britons.

CNN's special coverage continues after this short break. Coming up, a veteran of the British royals walks us through the queen's remarkable life and legacy.




ANDERSON: After 70 years on the throne, the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 is weighing heavily on the hearts of everyone who knew her. The British press today capturing that grief-stricken mood in their headlines. German news says, farewell to a cherished sovereign and beloved mother. "The Telegraph," this is the price we pay for love. And in "The Mirror," a simple and poignant thank you.

Elizabeth Norton is a historian and archaeologist and the author of several books on the monarchy. Thank you for joining us. Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed only three days ago by the queen, described her as the rock upon which modern Britain was built, and she did steer this monarchy over 70 years through extremely turbulent times.

To describe her as a rock upon which modern Britain was built, I think, is very apt, isn't it, given that she took Britain to the end of the empire and into what has been a very, very different era. ELIZABETH NORTON, HISTORIAN AND ARCHAEOLOGIST: Absolutely. I mean, it is such a poignant and absolutely true. And when the queen came to the throne, it was a completely different era. We still had the vestiges of the British empire. And now, of course, we are in this post- imperial -- we have the commonwealth where it is a union of friendship between many of the countries of the former empire.

And it is really the queen that steered us into this and negotiated the future for the monarchy, and also the way that Britain sees itself in the world stage, and I think very much for the positive.

ANDERSON: It's an image, I think, which is enduring, of Winston Churchill opening the door of a car for Queen Elizabeth II. And that sort of reminds us just how long she was on the throne. She went through, what, 14 prime ministers -- 15 prime ministers, including Prime Minister Liz Truss, 14 presidents, she met them all, Lyndon B. Johnson. This was a woman who visited more than a hundred countries. As I understand it, went around the world some 40 times.

What did she mean for Britain on the world stage?

NORTON: I think the queen was iconic on the world stage. And, of course, she became queen when she was actually visiting Kenya. It is also a really important thing to remember because it does show how global the queen's outlook was. She was, of course, not just the queen of Britain. She was the queen of many other nations and a representative of many nations on the world stage. She was instantly recognizable. The entire world will be reporting on her death today.

ANDERSON: And Kenya, one of the countries that gained independence many years ago now, throwing off the vestiges of British colonialism.


ANDERSON: I think President Obama himself suggested that she was one of three leaders that he admired, three leaders that he looked up to. And I think it's a point from somebody like President Obama that makes you realize quite how important the queen was on the world stage.

So, the question then is, what happens next, of course, isn't it? As we consider the queens legacy, how does this country move forward under a King Charles III?

NORTON: I think it's going to be difficult. And I think a lot of that is to do with the fact the queen was so loved and that almost nobody can really remember a time before she was queen. So, I think King Charles is -- he has a difficult task ahead.

I think the queen has left the monarchy in a really good position because there have been moments of turbulence and travel over her reign. So, I think that she has given King Charles an excellent base in which the

base is kinship.

He is going to start to everything (ph). I mean, we are so used to seeing God save the queen, and it's going to be difficult for people to get their heads around, God save the queen, and changing to a king and a queen (INAUDIBLE). And I think it's going to take time. I suspect that he understands that.

And, of course, we've studied his history. He has been a witness to his mother's entire reign. So, I think he understands that it is going to be a difficult transition for everyone and particularly for him. Of course, she was his mother, the person closest to her. But I think -- I can see good things ahead, but I think it's going to take time.

ANDERSON: He was born for this job, of course, all of his life, married to Camilla, who is now Queen Consort. His mother had a sense of duty, a family and of faith. At the age of 73, King Charles III will understand that. We'll take on the mantle as it were in, as you well described, a very, very different era. Thank you very much indeed, Elizabeth Norton, for being with me here outside of Buckingham Palace.

The sun is up. Dawn is breaking and it is early still in London. You will see the crowds gather once again here outside of Buckingham Palace as people mourn Queen Elizabeth II.

Coming up here on CNN, the queen and prime minister meeting at Balmoral just days before her majesty's passing. We are live at 10 Downing Street after this short break.


LIZ TRUSS, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: She has been a personal inspiration to me and to many Britons. Her devotion to duty is an example to us all.





ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Live images from Buckingham Palace where the union flag is flying at half- mast, the start of a period of mourning here to pay tributes to Queen Elizabeth. She was head of state for more than seven decades with an unwavering sense of duty that has come to symbolize what it means frankly for many to be British.

One of the most beloved roles was that of mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. CNN's Max Foster has more on the monarch's relationship with those grandchildren.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is normal to see royals on the walkabouts, but the queen popularized this type of royal mingling, and she knew the next generation would modernize things in their own way. Elizabeth II was keen to pass advice on to the next generation. Here, you see her giving tips to the Duchess of Cambridge on a tour of Leicester. A royal source told me that they had a warm relationship. The queen did not interfere with Kate and William's wedding in 2011. In fact, she advised them to do it their way. The only thing she did insist on was the uniform. She and William were always close.

CONSTANTINE II OF GREECE, PRINCE WILLIAM'S GODFATHER: Very close. Very close. They often discussed things. I know that he loved her, which is quite understandable. She is very friendly to them.

FOSTER (on camera): Had she been a mentor to him?

CONSTANTINE II: Yes. She always finds time. She will never say, no. If she can't, if she's busy, she will let you know and find another time, but she was always there.

FOSTER (voice-over): Harry was also close to his grandmother. During a tour of Jamaica in March 2012, the younger prince spoke on behalf of all her grandchildren.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: She combines all her virtues as a leader and as a head of state, with those of being a wonderful, caring grandmother to whom we, her grandchildren, are utterly devoted.

FOSTER (voice-over): Princess Anne's daughter, Zara, shared the queen's love of horses, which kept them close. But princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, famous for their hat choices, said it best when they revealed the queen was known to them simply as granny.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Queen Elizabeth's last public appearance came on Tuesday of this week, meeting with the prime minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral.


Pictures show the Queen looking frail carrying a walking stick but greeting the Conservative Party leader with a wide smile. Truss is the 15th Prime Minister appointed by Elizabeth. She called the Queen the rock on which modern Britain was built.


LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Through the second thing, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed. She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will enjoy.


ANDERSON: Well, let's bring in CNN's Nina dos Santos live this hour outside 10 Downing Street. Quite the job for Liz Truss, just three days into the job and describing just how the nation feels about a woman who has reigned here for 70 years, Nina, and through very turbulent times. You are outside 10 Downing Street in London. What happens next?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the flags are at half mast, as you'd expect here at number 10 Downing Street with the business of government, albeit for the essentials, has been suspended during this period of national mourning, Becky. Next, we are expecting parliament to sit at midday both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in this extraordinary session so that members of both Houses can pay tribute to this long-serving monarch who has done so much they say for this country. We're also expecting another extraordinary session for senior ministers and senior members of government tomorrow, which is unusual in the parliamentary schedule for parliament to sit over the weekend. That will give them an opportunity to take an oath to the new king, King Charles III.

Well, for Liz Truss, she has already spoken to our new king yesterday evening at 9 p.m. She also convened a special meeting of her senior ministers to discuss where to proceed from here. You can imagine that there are plans and processes that have long been rehearsed for this moment, but as you said it is a significant one because it comes only just three days into the new tenure of a new prime minister, the 15th in the late Queen's long 70-year plus reign, Becky.

ANDERSON: We've heard from many of those who have held Liz Truss's job in the past, not least from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who described the Queen not just as the country's monarch, but the country's matriarch. More from Nina dos Santos outside 10 Downing Street shirt later as we move through what is our coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. For now, let's get you to Michael Holmes at CNN Center in Atlanta for more international reactions to this.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Thank you, Becky. I will check back with you in a little bit. Meanwhile, after the break, it was 70 years ago that Princess Elizabeth became Queen while on holiday in Kenya. We'll take you live to Nairobi for a reaction there to the Queen's passing.



HOLMES: Welcome back, I'm Michael Holmes with CNN's continuing coverage of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Now around the world, people are mourning the loss of the only British monarch many have ever known. New Zealand is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, more than 50 of them, and people around the Commonwealth are honoring the Queen's memory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got a lot of respect for her show. Her service was great for the Commonwealth, and she actually made it so that people join the Commonwealth as opposed to leaving, to serve her, you know. But what was the British Empire turned into a really good Commonwealth, so she did a really good job? (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, Larry Madowo is in Kenya where then-Princess Elizabeth was vacationing when she became queen in 1952. And Angus Watson is in Sydney, Australia. Larry, let's begin with you. In many ways, are complicated paths between Britain and many African nations in the sense of colonization and the damage done in those times, but a fondness as well for this queen?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. That was a great deal of affection for Queen Elizabeth across the African continent. But today as people come to terms with the news of her death, there is a complicated legacy on the African continent. The fairy tale is that Queen Elizabeth went up the treetops here in Kenya a princess and came down a queen because it's when she was here in Kenya that she learned that her dad had died, and she was to be the queen. But that also was the start of -- the eight years after that, that the Kenyan colonial government crackdown -- the British colonial government crackdown, brutally on the Mau Mau rebellion against the colonial administration, they herded more than a million people into concentration camps where they were tortured and dehumanized.


And so, across the African continent, there have been people who are saying, I will not mourn for Queen Elizabeth because my ancestors suffered great atrocities under her people and that she never fully acknowledged that. And that is why among African Twitter, among Black Twitter, and other social media, there's been many people who are ungovernable with takes that maybe don't quite follow the official state religion which is why you see a statement like this from the South African opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters that said we do not mourn the death of Elizabeth because to us, her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa's history. During her 70-year reign as queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on many native people that Britain invaded across the world. If there is real life and justice after death, may Elizabeth and her ancestors get what they deserve.

There are people on social media who are calling our best sorts of statements for saying this is not the right time, you should honor the dead. But the critics say when is really the right time to talk about the legacy of colonialism and the many, many after-effects that continue to live with us today. But many African leaders are paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth, including the Kenyan President-Elect William Ruto, who's called his 70-year reign and guiding of the Commonwealth as admirable.

You saw, for instance, the statement from President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria that said my family and the more than 200 million Nigerians have learned with immense sadness for the passing of Queen Elizabeth, and the end of her unique and wonderful 70-year reign. She was the only British sovereign known to 90 percent of our population. And while that people who supported President Buhari for that, he has gotten a lot of criticism for that sort of sentiment. They use the slang of the times he's gotten ratioed for many people seeing him ignoring the impact of British colonialism in Nigeria, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Honoring the woman but acknowledging the stain of colonialism. Angus Watson, to you there in Sydney, where there is a growing Republican movement in Australia, there's a new prime minister who supports that movement. He's appointed a minister to move in that direction, but at the same time, a great love and a great history with this claim.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Michael. Almost every Australian has an opinion as to whether Australia should continue with its head of state being the British monarch, or whether an Australian should fill that position. As you say, Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister is of that latter opinion that Australia should be a republic. And in 1999, Australians were asked whether they'd like to keep the queen or whether they'd like their own president, they voted overwhelmingly to keep the British sovereign. So, Australia has this complicated relationship as well with the British crown, but you only have to look to that Republican movement to see how respected Queen Elizabeth II herself was in this country. That movement says OK, we lost the referendum, but -- and we will continue to pursue our goal, but we won't ask for another vote until the -- until after Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

Now, Australians are putting those politics behind them today as they mourn the loss of their head of state who served them for seven decades. That mourning has been led by Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, who this morning spoke of the 16 times that Queen Elizabeth visited Australia. In 1954, she became the first British monarch, the first Australian head of state, of course, to visit Australia to set foot on the shores when she came up Sydney Harbour just behind me and took that meeting with Australia for the first time, Michael. It set up a legacy with the British monarchy that flourished throughout her reign.

HOLMES: All right, appreciate it. Angus Watson in Sydney, Larry Madowo in Nairobi, now, thanks to you both.

Well, what could the future of the British Monarchy look like? Becky Anderson will be back in a moment and talk about that, also, the Queen's lifelong romance with Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: You're watching CNN's coverage of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. I'm Becky Anderson outside Buckingham Palace.

During her most of her years on the throne, the queen had one person she could always count on through all of what were many ups and downs her, late husband, Prince Philip, whom she once called her constant strength and guide. Max Foster now looks back at their royal romance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It was a love affair that lasted more than seven decades. As Queen Elizabeth celebrated Jubilee after Jubilee and went on to become the longest-serving British monarch in history, Philip was always by her side. A childhood companion to the Queen, Margaret Rhodes, was a bridesmaid at their wedding and was in no doubt that it was a marriage based on love.

MARGARET RHODES, COUSIN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II: I think she fell in love when she was 13, and God, he was good-looking. You know he was a -- he was a sort of Viking God. He never looked at anybody else ever.

FOSTER: The couple married in Westminster Abbey on November the 20th, 1947. And from that moment on, Prince Philip was an almost constant presence at the queen's side. If this companionship came at a personal price, it was one he was prepared to pay.


RHODES: Just to have been there all the time behind her, and ready to have sacrificed his life. He did it to sacrifice his life because he would have loved to have gone to the Navy and rarely made a career out of that. So, he sacrificed too. And so, I think it's made for a wonderful solid marriage.

FOSTER: The Queen and Prince Philip met before the Second World War when he was a young naval cadet.

ROBERT HARDMAN, AUTHOR, 'OUR QUEEN': And his number one job from the word go has been to "support the Queen" and it's just been one of the great royal romances I think of in history. People talking about Victoria and Albert as a phrase, it tripped off the tongue and I have no doubt that in the years to come, people will talk about Elizabeth and Philip in exactly the same way.

FOSTER: Netflix hit series, The Crown, captivated viewers worldwide, with its portrayal of the young couple's early romance, ensuring their place in popular culture for generations to come. The shy teenager and the handsome prince, as parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, they would always remain by each other's side as long as they were together. Max Foster, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, to talk more about her legacy, we are now joined by Martin Townsend, former editor of The Sunday Express. He joins us via Skype from here in London. And seven years on the throne, she was the U.K.'s longest-reigning monarch, she died peacefully at Balmoral in Scotland, the one place, Martin, that we are told she felt most at home, just describe her legacy from your perspective if you will.

MARTIN TOWNSEND, FORMER EDITOR, THE SUNDAY EXPRESS: Well, it's an extraordinary legacy. It's one that obviously spans 70 years, an extraordinary amount of experience she's been -- she went through, an extraordinary event in the country and in the world. And through that whole period, what she showed was an enormous understanding of her duty and also an understanding of what was going on in the world around her. One thinks of the comments she made during COVID, which comforted people in Britain and tend to calm the situation down.

She always knew exactly what to say. She was always by the side of her people. She understood what people were going through. There was never any sense with the queen of being grand and being above everything else. She was very much part of the country, the life of the country, a voracious reader of newspapers, a voracious watcher of the television, and she was very, very much aware of everything that was going on around her and very, very prepared to sort of being involved in that very subtle way that the queen was not political, but always there, always a presence, always there to comfort and reassure people.

ANDERSON: Martin, my colleague, Stephen Collinson in an analysis piece for, suggesting a queen who personified continuity and stability leaves at a perilous moment for the world, a perilous moment not least, for Britain. The U.K.'s new monarch will be known as King Charles III, what can the world expect from him?

TOWNSEND: I think -- I think King Charles III is going to be -- is going to be a surprise for many people. I think he has had time to prepare. He knew -- has always known that he's going to be king, so time to prepare for that moment. He's a man of great integrity. He's a man of great -- of great care and belief. He is someone who is going to -- who is going to, in a sense, continue the Queen's legacy in the best possible way.

But he will do it in a slightly different way, I think. A lot of the things that he's interested in particularly around the environment and farming, I can't see him abandoning those things because he believes that they are -- they are things that he should pursue that he should do for the nation. But he won't be you know, sort of outspoken as he has been in the past, but he will quietly give his view. He's a very, very good communicator, spread sort of chair around him wherever he goes. I remember seeing him at a hospital a couple of years ago visiting victims of a bombing here actually and the nurses were laughing, the doctors were laughing, had everybody cheered up at a time of really quiet great gloom for the country.


So he has that wonderful sense of communication that the Queen has got. But I think he will also be a very thoughtful king and he certainly won't abandon some of the things that he's cared about in the past.

ANDERSON: Martin Townsend, joining us today, thank you very much indeed. Well, I'm Becky Anderson --

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

ANDERSON: -- From London. Our live coverage here outside of Buckingham Palace continues after this short break. Stay with us.