Photos: Thousands gather at Buckingham Palace to mourn the only queen many have ever known

By the dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, Britons from all walks of life gathered outside the ornate gates of Buckingham Palace in central London, first in anxious anticipation, then in mourning for the only monarch virtually any of them had ever known .

Some cried. Some clasped hands. Others looked around sullenly, lost in their own thoughts.

Even before the formal announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s death at the age of 96 late Thursday afternoon, as the last light of day vanished amid downpours, crowds had gathered outside the palace, which has been the official residence of British monarchs since the 19th century was, crowds formed.

“It’s a somber moment,” said Jeffrey Julien, 57, a Londoner who watched as the British flag was lowered to half-mast to commemorate Elizabeth’s death. “She is a public figure in this country who has been on television and in the news my entire life. She was the constant.”

Earlier in the day, when news broke that members of the royal family were rushing to the Queen’s side at her summer retreat, Balmoral Castle in Scotland, crowds in the capital broke into a performance of “God Save the Queen”.

People gather at the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace

People gather at the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace in central London following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

(Yui Mok/Associated Press)

London black cabs line the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace to pay silent tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

London black cabs line the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace for a silent tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in London, England.

(Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A police officer lays tribute outside Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in Balmoral today.

A police officer pays tribute outside Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II today at Balmoral in London, England.

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Police officers stand between floral tributes outside Buckingham Palace.

Police officers stand between floral tributes left outside Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II in London on Thursday September 8, 2022.

(Victoria Jones/Associated Press)

Members of the public stop in the rain to study a giant picture of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on display in Piccadilly Circus

Members of the public stop in the rain to study a giant picture of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on display in Piccadilly Circus, central London, following the announcement of her death.

(BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Crowds gather at the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II today

Crowds gather at the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace following the death of Queen Elizabeth II today at Balmoral in London, England.

(Getty Images)

A member of the Royal Household posts a note on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London

A member of the Royal Household posts a note on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

(Victoria Jones/Associated Press)

An announcement of the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London.

An announcement of the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London.

(Frank Augstein/AP)

A man holds a Union flag umbrella as a rainbow is seen outside Buckingham Palace in London.

A man holds a Union flag umbrella as a rainbow is seen outside Buckingham Palace in London.

(Samir Hussein/WireImage)

A woman lays flowers outside Buckingham Palace in central London.

A woman lays flowers outside Buckingham Palace in central London.

(DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The first bouquets of flowers hang on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London.

The first bouquets of flowers are placed on the gates of Buckingham Palace in London following the official announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s death at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

(Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

People gather at Buckingham Palace in London following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

People gather at Buckingham Palace in London following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

(Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-09-08/thousands-gather-at-buckingham-palace-to-mourn-queen-elizabeth Photos: Thousands gather at Buckingham Palace to mourn the only queen many have ever known

Alley Einstein

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