Mourners outside Buckingham Palace have paid tribute to the Queen as “the grandmother of the nation” and “a stabilising factor in the world”.
Since news of the Queen’s death broke at 6.30pm on Thursday, thousands of people from across the country – and the globe – have visited the royal residence in central London to feel part of a moment in history.
Many were crying, praying, and laying colourful flowers at the wrought iron gates on Friday morning.
Nearby florists had sold out due to rocketing demand, and charity staff were selling white flowers in Green Park for those streaming down the pathways that lead to the Palace.
Laura Huff, a US national who moved to London three-and-a-half years ago, was in tears as she paid her respects to the Queen, describing her as “a grandmother to the nation”.
She told the PA news agency: “We always knew this day would come but it just seemed to happen quite quickly when it did.
“She was like a grandmother to the nation.
“As someone who wanted to move here my entire life, she was someone you always hear about and read about.
“I think she had a really strong sense of responsibility and you could really see that.”
Mrs Ashley, a dual British-Australian national, told PA: “It’s very sad, very, very sad.
“Like everyone’s been saying, she’s been part of our lives.
“I’m a dual citizen, I grew up in the UK, and it’s a time of uncertainty and the Queen was one of those stabilising factors around the world in these troubling times.
“So I guess there’s a sense of dread about what the future holds.”
Her husband, 71, who was carrying an Australian flag, said a “new era” of the British monarchy could act as a “uniting force” for the world amid the war in Ukraine.
When asked what the Queen meant to him, he told PA: “We’ve had a feeling of dread for the last week or two because of her deteriorating health.
“It means a lot to us because she was the Queen of Australia, there’s a Union Jack on our flag and our connection couldn’t have been any closer.
“Perhaps also during this time of world conflict, we can all focus on something else – this emergence into a new era, a uniting force.”
Kwok-kit Ngan, 37, a dentist from Bromley, south-east London, said he felt “great sadness” when the Queen died but it was “heart-warming” to see people coming together in grief at the Palace.
After laying a bouquet of sunflowers, the last in a nearby supermarket, Mr Ngan said: “She’s been leading the country for the last 70 years and I think she really has led by example through the good times and the bad times.”
Asked how it felt to see so many people paying tribute, he said: “It’s quite heart-warming. Not many events would draw people together.
“I think what happened yesterday has really got people to reflect and appreciate what she’s really done for us over the past 70 years.
“I think although it’s a sad event, some good will come out of it.
“If you look at Prince Charles and Prince William over the past few years and the good they’ve done for the country.
“I think we’re in safe hands.”
Natalie Grimston, a cafe manager in her 40s who held a Platinum Jubilee party at her business earlier this year, described the atmosphere at Buckingham Palace as “surreal”.
After laying flowers with her dog Bailey, Ms Grimston said: “You can hear the noise from the Palace, but when you’re over there (laying flowers) it’s deathly silent, it’s just not real.”