Queen Elizabeth II: The moment the Buckingham Palace crowds learned the news – BBC

By Andre Rhoden-Paul
Reporting from Buckingham Palace

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Crowds sing God save the Queen outside Buckingham Palace
As the union jack at Buckingham Palace was lowered to half mast, the crowds outside stood still in shock.
The silence was broken only by a symphony of news alerts on people's phones, and the messages that followed.
The mood had shifted: it was inquisitive, then suddenly sombre. It was now official. The Queen had died.
People had gathered throughout the afternoon after hearing she was ill. The gravity of the moment was all over 77-year-old Sheila De Bellaigue's teary face.
"I didn't realise until I saw the flag lower," she said, "and then I knew. I'm feeling very sad, as is everybody who is here."
The Londoner remembers getting her coronation mug as a schoolgirl. "She's been a wonderful queen, and she'll be very much missed."
Also watching the flag being lowered was Michael Hammond, 23, from Southampton. "I thought she embodied the British spirit, she gave her entire life, and just united generations," he said.
It was not long before a sea of people came through Green Park and over the road to the palace, forcing traffic to stop.
Hayley Jarvis, from Wolverhampton, had been at Euston station waiting for a train when she saw the news on a departure board.
She caught the tube straight to the palace to share in the national moment.
"I just wanted to come down just to show my respects," she says. "It's terribly sad. I lost my own dad recently, so I've got a lot of empathy for how the family must be feeling."
There were hundreds of people outside the palace by the time she arrived.
"It's going to be a shockwave," she said, "and there will be ripples for days and days."
The pavement outside the palace gates filled with young and old, Brits and tourists. Some stood alone, in silence, in the rain. Others gathered under umbrellas with their friends.
Dave Baldwin was at the gym when the news alert pinged to his phone. He jumped on a bike and headed for the palace from Oxford Street, around a mile away.
"It's quite sombre isn't it – at the same time we kind of knew it was coming," he said.
"But it's nice to see people turn out and giving flowers. I'm sure it's just the start of people coming and showing their appreciation."
People forced their way through the crowds, by now dozens of people-deep, to lay flowers at the gates.
Looking visibly upset as he clutched a bouquet of gerberas and chrysanthemums was Harry Wang.
"I was at home when I heard the news," the 44-year-old air steward, from London, said. "She was a symbol of this country, and of this nation."
Suzette Williams, who's 51 and from Norwich, was on the London Underground, on the way to the palace, when the announcement was made.
"I feel more sad than I was expecting," she said. "I just thought this is the end of an era. The Queen has been here all my life."
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