The royal family – and the nation – is in mourning after Queen Elizabeth II, the UK's longest-serving monarch, died peacefully last Thursday at Balmoral, the Scottish estate she adored.
In his statement, King Charles III said, “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms, and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”
Charles, 73, and Camilla, 75, who is now Queen Consort, were among the family members who gathered at Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors became concerned over Her Majesty's health. The Queen's other children – Princess Anne, 72, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Edward, 58 – plus grandson and now heir to the throne Prince William, 40, and younger brother Prince Harry, 37, also made the journey.
California-based Harry was already in the UK, having flown over earlier in the week to attend several charity events with wife Meghan. A source says, “Harry is thankful he was in the country, but he is heartbroken. Meghan is devastated too and is doing all she can to support him, but she knows it's going to be an uphill struggle for a while.
"Despite his strained relationship with his family, he had such a special relationship with the Queen and he’s in pieces now she’s gone.”
As the nation entered a period of official mourning, tributes poured in from around the world. Rows of iconic black cabs lined the streets of The Mall, with one driver sharing, “As London cabbies we’ve come here to pay tribute to her.”
Celebrities, politicians, and other public figures took to social media to pay their respects to the incredible woman so many of them had the pleasure to meet. New Prime Minister Liz Truss said, “She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure.” Elton John – who has performed at many Jubilee celebrations over the years – wrote, “She was an inspiring presence to be around, and led the country through some of our greatest, and darkest, moments with grace, decency, and a genuine caring warmth.” And David Beckham wrote, “How devastated we all feel today shows what she has meant to people n this country and around the world.”
Mourners flocked to iconic royal landmarks to pay tribute, leaving flowers and letters for the royal family, who in all of this, have lost a beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. One well-wisher wrote, “I like to think she’s been reunited with Prince Philip now, and is enjoying a G&T with her favourite corgis.” The Queen described her late husband as her “strength and stay” through their 74 years of marriage, before his death in 2021, aged 99.
The atmosphere is a stark contrast to that felt at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June – a weekend celebrating the rule of a Queen no one envisioned we would be grieving just three months later. Woven into our everyday lives from postboxes and £10 notes to key historical events, Queen Elizabeth II was a figure of continuity in a world that was in flux.
Many have said the nation has lost a grandmother.
But in among the sombre coverage was a moment of brightness. As the Union Jack was lowered at Windsor Castle, a rainbow briefly appeared. Meanwhile in London, an impressive double rainbow could be spotted over Buckingham Palace by the hundreds who gathered there. The beautiful arches over were a glimpse of joy on what was an otherwise dark day.
Some also chose to see it as a last goodbye from Elizabeth II, who loved her country and people so much.