Britain wakes in mourning after the death of longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II

The queen died on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish home Balmoral surrounded by family

A woman lays flowers at Buckingham Palace in London following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday. Photo: PA
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Queen Elizabeth II dies - follow the latest news as the world mourns

Britain is waking to its first day in 70 years without Queen Elizabeth II.

For the majority of the nation she is the only monarch they have ever known, a figurehead who was ever present in the life of the nation.

The pomp and ceremony which accompanies historic moments in Britain will begin as the queen is commemorated throughout the country and around the world.

Gun salutes will ring out in London and bells will toll across the country, with churches, chapels and cathedrals encouraged by the Church of England to open for prayers or a special service for mourners.

Well-wishers flocked to Buckingham Palace, as people laid flowers in tribute to the late monarch.

Messages of thanks for the Queen and condolences to her family were also left among the floral tributes from the public at the gates of Balmoral Castle.

One said: “Thank you Queen Elizabeth II for your service to our nation.” Another card said: “Thank you for your dedication, service and reign.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a calming figure through my life.” Dozens of bouquets were left by people who braved the heavy rain in north east Scotland to pay their respects.

One tribute came in the shape of a model corgi – the Queen’s beloved breed of dog. Another card was left by pupils from St Roman’s Primary School more than 100 miles away in West Dumbartonshire. Another message simply said: “Just thanks.”

The queen’s son and successor King Charles III, who shortly after her death was announced on Thursday spoke of his grief at the death of his beloved mother and “cherished sovereign” will now turn his mind to matters of state as he begins his first full day as the nation’s new monarch having spent much of his 73 years in preparation for the role.

He will return to London from Balmoral, where the queen died after spending her final days at her beloved Scottish home.

King Charles III, as he is now titled, is expected to make a TV address on Friday evening.

Behind the scenes, the long-held London Bridge plans for the queen’s death are being rapidly put into action, setting out the proceeding days according to a strict timetable that will feature a lying in state and then the solemnity and grandeur of a state funeral.

The arrangements have a more complex factor because the queen died in Scotland ― which triggered Operation Unicorn ― the contingency plans in case of such an event.

Members of the royal family will be expected in the coming days to hold a vigil around the queen’s coffin in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, before it is transported by RAF plane back to London.

There she is expected to lie in state in a few days’ time, with her funeral in Westminster Abbey in central London, most likely on Monday September 19.

Gun salutes ― one round for every year of the queen’s life ― will be fired in central London on Friday and the new monarch will hold his first audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the queen on Tuesday in her final official act.

Ms Truss paid tribute on the steps of Downing Street on Thursday evening, describing the queen as “the rock on which modern Britain was built”.

“Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed,” she said. She was informed of the Queen’s death at 4.30pm as she worked in Downing Street, with the news broken by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

Ms Truss said: “In the difficult days ahead, we will come together with our friends, across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world, to celebrate her extraordinary lifetime of service.

“It is a day of great loss, but Queen Elizabeth II leaves a great legacy.

“Today the crown passes ― as it is has done for more than a thousand years ― to our new monarch, our new head of state: His Majesty King Charles III.

“With the king’s family, we mourn the loss of his mother. And as we mourn, we must come together as a people to support him.

“To help him bear the awesome responsibility that he now carries for us all.

“We offer him our loyalty and devotion just as his mother devoted so much to so many for so long.

“And with the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country, exactly as her majesty would have wished, by saying the words 'God save the King'.”

The prime minister and senior ministers will attend a public service of remembrance at St Paul’s in central London.

On Saturday morning, an accession council ― the formal proclamation of Charles as king ― will take place at St James’s Palace in London.

The first public proclamation of the new sovereign will then be read in the open air from the Friary Court balcony at St James’s Palace by the garter king of arms. King Charles will hold audiences, and the media will be briefed by the earl marshal, who is in charge of the accession and the queen’s funeral, on the coming days.

Tributes

World leaders paid tribute to the late monarch.

President Sheikh Mohamed led UAE tributes. "I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Queen Elizabeth II and the people of the UK," he wrote on Twitter.

"Her Majesty was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved and respected leader whose long reign was characterised by dignity, compassion and a tireless commitment to serving her country."

President Joe Biden said she was “more than a monarch.” She was a leader who “defined an era”.

“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her,” he said in a statement released by the White House.

Former US President Barack Obama said: "Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know her majesty, and she meant a great deal to us. Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humour and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance."

Pope Francis said he willingly joined all who mourn her loss "in praying for the late queen's eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the nation and the Commonwealth."

Updated: September 09, 2022, 8:59 AM
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