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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Crowds grieve for Queen Mother
The mood was sombre at Windsor
Mourners of all ages gathered at Windsor

They gather in their hundreds, the Royalists and the tourists, outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to pay their last respects to the Queen Mother.

In clusters they approach the high wrought iron gates outside the Palace, to which is fixed a simple death notice.

Some twist late-flowering daffodils through the bars, others pose for photographs with the Palace's union flag at half mast behind them.

A lone piper starts up a dirge nearby and is soon surrounded by TV crews and tourists, and floodlit by flashbulbs.

In later years she was regarded with a lot of affection, almost as the nation's grandmother

Patricia Mumford
Janet Waistell, 51, of Sunderland, says: "I feel it is a privilege for me to be here today.

"The Queen Mother represented everything that was good about this country. She was so determined and so well loved."

One tribute written on a card left on the green near the palace said: "I really don't know what to say, our nation lost its grandmother today.

"Through the blitz and bombing when things went wrong, you were the woman that made us strong. Rest peacefully, you deserve it."

Sombre mood

John Squire, 21, and Rachel Ramshaw, 17, on holiday from Yorkshire, pause outside the Palace gate.

"We didn't want to leave flowers but came to pay our respects," Rachel says. "Because we are young we didn't really know her, but like Diana she seemed like a nice lady."

Londoners Beverley Bailey and Tina Zandona are among the first to lay flowers outside Clarence House, where the Queen Mother lived nearby.

Heartfelt messages were left within hours
Tributes at Buckingham Palace
"We bought some flowers because they are bright and full of life - we thought that would be a nice way to remember her," says Ms Zandona through tears.

Touching her friend's arm for support, Ms Bailey says that despite the Queen Mother's recent illness, she was still surprised at the news. "She was the pillar of the Royal Family - I thought she would go on forever."

Outside Clarence House, workmen hastily erect barricades and a marquee in anticipation of the crowds to come over the following days.

The main entrance to the house itself is cordoned off, a move unpopular with mourner John Lumsden, on holiday in London from the north of England.

Tight security

He says: "The Metropolitan Police didn't allow me to lay flowers at her front door, they wouldn't let me through.

"I had bought 12 beautiful red roses for a beautiful lady - a very special lady in many people's hearts - and I am extremely upset about it.

"They told me I couldn't come through because I could be a terrorist."

Instead, he lays his bouquet alongside about 30 others on a grass verge outside the walled grounds of the house.

Laura Waterfield, 11, and her mother Linda leave a floral tribute
Tributes were paid at Sandringham
Most of the bouquets left in tribute are brightly-coloured carnations and chrysanthemums. Among the blooms in two of the bunches lie teddy bears in regimental uniforms.

One small bunch of carnations are tied to the lamp post outside the house, with a photo of a smiling Queen Mother stapled to the side.

Another woman who comes to say goodbye lays a modest bunch of miniature roses.

"These were all I could get this late at night but it is the thought that counts. Bless her," she says, crossing herself.

Residents of Windsor gathered outside the castle within minutes of learning of her death, laying bouquets at two separate entrances to the castle.

Royal fan Terry Hutt
Terry Hutt: "She was a special, special lady"

Royalist Terry Hutt arrived at Windsor Castle less than an hour after the death was announced.

The 66-year-old slept on a bench beneath the castle's ramparts on Saturday night so he "could feel close" to the Queen Mother.

He first met her when he was just four years old, in London during the Blitz, and travelled all over Britain to see her whenever she made a public appearance.

"I feel so empty, I just don't know what to say. It's like a friend has died," he said.

"It is such a sad occasion. She was a special, special lady."

The atmosphere was sombre as people of all ages paid quiet tribute.

At the Queen's estate in Sandringham, Norfolk, several mourners visited to lay floral tributes outside the main gates.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher at Clarence House
"Tributes are being laid"

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30 Mar 02 | UK
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