The Earl of Wessex has said the death of the Queen has left “an unimaginable void in all our lives” and his family were now “united in grief”.
Edward spoke movingly about the Queen, describing how his two children had shared precious moments with their grandmother, in a statement released as he and his wife viewed flowers left by mourners at Windsor Castle.
The Earl, the youngest of the Queen’s four children, said in his tribute that in death, as in life, they were sharing their “beloved mama” with others.
He added: “While it has been lovely to have spent time saying our own farewell privately at Balmoral, it is now time to allow others to be able to say their farewell.”
The Queen is lying in state at Westminster Hall, where a continuous river of people has been flowing past her coffin to pay their respects since the doors opened on Wednesday.
Edward said: “We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect to such a very special and unique person who was always there for us.
“And now, we are there for her, united in grief. Thank you for your support, you have no idea how much it means.
“The Queen’s passing has left an unimaginable void in all our lives. Sophie and I have taken huge pleasure in seeing our James and Louise enjoying the places and activities that their grandparents loved so much.
“Given that my mama let us spend so much time with her, I think she also rather enjoyed watching those passions blossom. Those times together, those happy memories, have now become massively precious to each and every one of us.”
The Earl and Countess spent almost 30 minutes meeting people outside Windsor Castle, collecting floral tributes and accepting condolences from well-wishers.
At one point, one member of a group of nuns waiting behind a crash barrier clasped Sophie’s hand and kissed it.
Edward ended his message by saying: “May God bless Her Majesty and may her memory be long cherished, even as the baton she has carried for these past 70 years now passes to the next generation and to my brother, Charles.
“Long Live The King.”
Edward and Sophie had visited visited Manchester Cathedral on Thursday to light a candle in memory of the Queen.