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Queen Elizabeth death: Thousands gather at Buckingham Palace to mourn in their most personal ways

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo / AP

There’s no wailing outside Buckingham Palace.

No convulsions of grief captured for mass consumption, as with the death of another member of the royal family 25 years ago.

It wasn’t her way, this “Queen of Stability” whose early reign coincided with the crumbling of the British Empire but would itself endure for 70 years.

And it wouldn’t be their way, mourners promised as they gathered in their thousands outside Buckingham Palace Friday night (UK time).

Even the lilies and roses poked through the gates of the late Queen Elizabeth’s occasional home, and her monarchy’s administrative HQ, stay only a prescribed period of time before being gathered up and moved away.

Essex mum Jade Lapage was among hundreds who arrived at the palace with flowers, a large bunch tucked under one arm and single roses for her daughter, 7, and brother, 11, to place in Elizabeth II’s memory.

Jade Lapage, of Essex, and her 11-year-old brother Ronnie, outside Buckingham Palace in London after Queen Elizabeth's death. Photo / Cherie Howie
Jade Lapage, of Essex, and her 11-year-old brother Ronnie, outside Buckingham Palace in London after Queen Elizabeth’s death. Photo / Cherie Howie

They had travelled from Southend, about 70km by car, to mark the monarch’s death in the most personal way they knew how – by being there.

“I’m bringing the kids,” Lapage says, “not to enjoy it, but to be part of it.”

As she spoke, the limestone palace towered over her family, a monument to privilege far removed from the humble households of Southend.

But the mum-of-one was less concerned with the size of the palace, than who’d been holding it up.

“There’s not many people who could say, ‘I’ve worked my whole life’, and she could – right until two days before [her death].”

Nearby, English language student Marco Ortega was back for a second night outside Buckingham Palace, after the Mexico native joined thousands the night before, hours after the monarch’s death was announced.

Frances Gomez, left, with her friends outside Buckingham Palace in London after Queen Elizabeth's death. Photo / Cherie Howie
Frances Gomez, left, with her friends outside Buckingham Palace in London after Queen Elizabeth’s death. Photo / Cherie Howie

“I just want to experience the way British people love and respect the Queen.”

Yesterday people seemed unsure, and mixed in their reactions, the 27-year-old says.

“Now I think people have come together, and have the same feeling.”

Shared attitudes towards the late Queen are to be expected for a leader whose reign rolled through so many of our lifetimes, with generations knowing only one monarch.

“In my lifetime, in my parents’ lifetime”, Leicester’s Steve Sharman says, “she’s always been there.”

Sharman had come to London with his wife and daughter for another event, but knew the palace was where they needed to be.

“She was amazing for so many people. I’ve never been massively into the royal family, but I respect her.”

Members of the public attend a Service of Prayer and Reflection, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth, at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Photo / Getty Images
Members of the public attend a Service of Prayer and Reflection, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Photo / Getty Images

Near the main gates, Filipino native Frances Gomez and her friends were there because they wanted to show gratitude to the United Kingdom for their jobs as NHS nurses.

She saw no difference between the Government that granted her work visa and the monarch, Gomez said.

“Just imagine how many people she’s helped?”

Out here beyond the palace gates, Gomez wasn’t concerned by the late Queen’s occasional foibles as a fellow human being.

Yes, there were moments of scandal and missteps, but there were also moments of wit and good humour.

King Charles III and Camilla, view tributes left outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Queen Elizabeth. Photo / Getty Images
King Charles III and Camilla, view tributes left outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Queen Elizabeth. Photo / Getty Images

Now, the young nurse has her own moments to share, of gratitude and devotion – even when the right words won’t quite come.

“I feel so happy to be here,” she says finally.

“And I don’t quite know why.”

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