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'We feel really upset': Britons react to Queen Elizabeth II's death

Crowds outside Buckingham Palace
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Luke Hanrahan
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"I can’t believe what’s happened, I don’t think we expected it. We feel really, really upset,” said Debbie Thomas.

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Mourners gathered at Buckingham Palace on Thursday evening to try and come to terms with the news that Queen Elizabeth II had died. 

There was a mixture of disbelief and distress.

“I suppose we felt this day would come one day, and you just wouldn’t believe it – I was here standing here with my children. I never met the Queen, I was here in June and I felt I really ought to come,” said John Harrison.

“Our whole lifetime has been in the Queen’s power, so you know – I can’t believe what’s happened, I don’t think we expected it, especially with her meeting Liz Truss. We feel really, really upset,” said Debbie Thomas.

“I think it’s a real time of transition. Not just a new PM but now a new monarch. It’s a real time of transition for the nation,” said Angus Kincaid.

Queen Elizabeth II is an icon of the 20th and 21st centuries – Britain’s longest-serving monarch. She's remained the constant at the heart and the head of the UK establishment and of Britain's way of life. In a country which can appear bitterly divided at times, she remained immensely popular as a uniting force, a reliable source of comfort in troubled times and a Queen who could make concord from discord.

“The world is going to be different," said Professor Chris Imafidon, a royal expert. "The commonwealth is going to be different, the English-speaking world is going to be radically different – because her guiding hand… almost every head of state, wanted to come and see the Queen for a specific reason – 15 different prime ministers…”

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