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Nation mourns death of Queen Elizabeth II as tearful crowds gather at Buckingham Palace and Balmoral
8 September 2022, 17:58 | Updated: 8 September 2022, 22:51
Huge crowds of tearful well-wishers flocked to Buckingham Palace and Balmoral to pay their respects to the Queen, following her death aged 96.
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The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle on Thursday afternoon and, despite the weather, flowers were soon left by the gates.
People were pictured crying and taking pictures as they gathered outside the palace late on Thursday evening, as a single helicopter circled the skies above.
The flag at Buckingham Palace was lowered to half-mast and a group of armed police assembled with Palace staff in the grounds.
What a moment at Buckingham Palace. Hundreds and hundreds of people pouring in to pay their respects to the Queen pic.twitter.com/LJO4eQ9eNt— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) September 8, 2022
Officials brought a notice confirming the Queen's death to the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Thousands of people gathered to catch a glimpse of it on Thursday evening, with hundreds still outside the gates as darkness fell.
Many people were seen setting up tents as they prepared to camp outside the palace overnight.
Royal superfan John Loughrey, 67, from Wandsworth, south west London, wept outside Buckingham Palace as he said he “can’t believe” the news.
He told The Wandsworth Times he will be camping near the palace for 10 days.
He paid tribute to the “inspirational” Queen whose “duty always came first”.
Mr Loughrey said: “I met the Queen twice - I gave flowers to her.
“I can’t believe it.
“She was inspirational.
“She served her duty – her duty always came first, her family next.
“She went downhill after the Duke of Edinburgh died - They were like two swans.
“God save the Queen.”
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace
Meanwhile, Lily, aged four, wrote "I love you Queen. I'll miss you." in a tribute at Balmoral.
Written on a bouquet of flowers, laid out on a bridge next to Balmoral, another message read: "A mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, our Queen. Your job here is done. Rest easy. Charlotte, Adam, Harriet and Tilly."
Despite growing darkness and torrential rain, people gathered throughout the evening to pay their respects to the Queen at the Balmoral gates.
More flowers have been laid on the roadside leading to the Balmoral gates, with one bouquet reading: "In tribute to a remarkable sovereign."
Earlier on Thursday the Royal Family rushed up to Scotland to be at the monarch's bedside, with her four children - Prince Charles, Princess Anne, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex - alongside Prince Harry and Prince William visiting her at her Aberdeenshire home.
Plaque mounted on gates at Holyroodhouse
Earlier in the day, a sign reading "no guard changing ceremony today" was in position outside the palace but was later removed by officials, ahead of the Palace's announcement.
Tributes have flooded in for the Queen, with Charles, the new King, saying the monarch's death "is a moment of the greatest sadness" for the Royal Family.
In a tribute, King Charles III, wrote: "The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
"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."
World leaders also paid tribute to the 96-year-old, with Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden saying the Queen was "more than a monarch" and that she "defined an era".