Messages of condolences continued to pour in on Friday as a period of national mourning began in the UK following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The 96-year-old monarch, whose reign lasted for seven decades, “died peacefully” on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish residence Balmoral.
In a speech to the citizens of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, French President Emmanuel Macron said the late Queen’s “wisdom and empathy” has helped all to “steer a path through the historic ups and downs” in the past 7o years, and “with her passing, we all feel an emptiness.”
Macron paid tribute to her strength and courage to “uphold from one century to the next, the values of freedom and tenacity,” saying, “To you, she was your Queen. To us, she was The Queen. To us all, she would be with us forever.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Queen “embodied the best of our common European heritage: democracy and the rule of law,” and said Germany “looks back with gratitude on the Queen, who, among many others, also stood for the fact that the former wartime enemies Great Britain and Germany were able to reconcile again.”
Offering condolences on behalf of the European Commission, spokesperson Eric Mamer said the late Queen was “a beacon of continuity throughout these changes, never seizing to display coldness and dedication that gave strength to many.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Queen was a “strong supporter” of the alliance and its armed forces and values and that he will “always remember her wisdom, her warmth, and her strong personal interest in transatlantic security.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Thursday offered “thoughts and prayers” to the British royal family, the UK, and the Commonwealth over the “irreparable loss.”
Period of National Mourning
The UK government published guidance on Friday, saying a period of national mourning had begun and will continue until the end of the day of the state funeral, which is expected to be held around 10 days later.
There is no obligation on the public, private businesses, and organisations to suspend their operations, but some, including The National Gallery and department store Selfridges decided to close their doors on Friday. Many sports events such as football, golf, and horse racing have also been postponed.
Flags at Royal Residences will remain half-masted until the morning after the final day of Royal Mourning.
Flags at government buildings and military establishments have also been half-masted following the Queen’s death.
On Friday afternoon, thousands gathered at London’s Hyde Park to watch the Queen’s Death Gun Salute. Ninty-six rounds were fired in the 16-minute ceremony—one for each year of her life.
Gun salute ceremonies were also held in several places across Britain, in Northern Ireland, and abroad, to mark the death of the Queen.
King Charles III later arrived at Buckingham Palace for the first time as monarch, greeted by a crowd of well-wishers gathered outside the Palace.
Charles is expected to hold an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss before she attends a service of prayer and reflection on the death of the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral in the evening.
The new King, who will be formally proclaimed as sovereign on Saturday morning, is expected to give his first televised speech as the King on Friday evening.