Seas of flowers and candles have been left outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as the nation mourns Queen Elizabeth II.
As world leaders paid tribute to the 96-year-old on Thursday, ordinary Britons paid their own respects to a woman who had been the face of the nation for more than 70 years.
To most, she was a steady presence in a world of constant change, and her passing marks the end of an era for the entire country.
As people gathered outside the black iron gates of Buckingham Palace, many were seen crying and shaking their heads in utter disbelief.
Tearful eyes were fixated on the empty balcony meters away and the lowered national flag.
Just a few months ago, an even larger crowd had gathered there for a concert featuring a star-studded lineup fit for the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
Hundreds of people got the grim news yesterday when the official posted a short bulletin on the balustrade of the palace announcing her death.
Queen Elizabeth II dead: important details
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has passed away after 70 years on the throne, with her death announced by Buckingham Palace on September 8, 2022.
She died at the age of 96, surrounded by her family at her home in Balmoral, including her son and heir to the throne Charles, the Prince of Wales, and her grandsons, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.
Follow Metro.co.uk’s live blog for the latest updates.
There were similar emotional scenes outside the home of Queen’s Windsor Castle.
The flag over the royal residence in Berkshire was slowly lowered at half-mast in the evening.
A few minutes earlier, a rainbow had appeared above the crowd, lending a sense of calm to the historic moment.
Many did not have the words to express their sudden grief and were pictured holding hands and hugging.
The mourners also gathered outside Balmoral Castle, where the late royal family spent the last few months before her death.
Her summer home was one of her favorite places and where she retreated every year for horseback riding, nature walks and picnics with her family.
The police began to have members of the public stand at the gates to pay their respects to the Queen.
Several people walked to the entrance to the retreat grounds from 6:30 a.m. to lay bouquets.
One woman was spotted lighting a candle, while others were seen reading personal notes on the flowers.
The area was closed for a while on Thursday evening when members of the royal family arrived at the castle.
Like any other Friday in London, the Tubes were packed to the brim and the roads were busy with cars stuck in morning traffic.
But there was a sense of shock and great sadness as people lined up in front of flower shops all over the capital.
On public transport, commuters read in the national newspapers about the life and achievements of the Queen.
Portraits of Elizabeth also replaced the usual flashy advertisements on billboard screens in Piccadilly Circus and Canary Wharf.
Tributes to the monarch will be brought into the Houses of Parliament and Lords from 12 noon later.
Contact our news team by emailing email@example.com.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get the latest news, feel-good stories, analytics and more