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

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By Luke Hanrahan
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace   -   Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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…”