Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katharine Murphy, is in London and has reflected on the sombre mood and reaction in the UK.
After a long, cold, wet winter in Australia, the last days of summer in London have assumed a golden quality. The city is bustling. Restaurants, galleries and museums are full. Raucous drinkers spill out of pubs onto the pavements. Cyclists scream past on their bikes, nudging cars politely out of the way.
But as autumnal rain has fallen this week, winter has crept closer. People sleeping rough on the streets are huddled in doors and in tunnels. Food banks are well populated with working people who can’t afford basics. Inflation is soaring. People are worried about how they will pay their energy bills.
Politics is in flux. During the handful of days I’ve been in London, one prime minister, Boris Johnson, has fallen, and another, Liz Truss, has taken the top job. And as I roamed the state rooms of Buckingham Palace on Thursday morning, another jolt. News that the Queen was under medical supervision began to filter through the crowd of tourists. By the time we’d cleared the palace and reached the garden, the anxiety in the crowd was palpable.
It seemed improbable that the woman who had presided over this extraordinary, gilded, place; a monarch who had given the people of the United Kingdom, the realms and the commonwealth, such stability and continuity over seven decades, could be mortal. Majesty ebbing to humanity was inexorable, unavoidable – but on the day that actually happened, that mortality seemed like an affront, even to a hardboiled Australian republican bearing witness.
An hour or so later, at The Grenadier, a pub in the diplomatic district close to the palace, an American woman expressed concern to her travelling companions that the marriage of William and Kate could be on the rocks. She’d heard this speculation from a tour guide. She hoped this was hearsay, because those young royals seemed lovely, and one country could only bear so much tumult. A British companion promptly and emphatically declared the insight false.
Throughout the afternoon, as the rain fell, as umbrellas were hoisted and lowered, on the Tube, on the buses, in the shops and the cafes, London was doom-scrolling, hoping their monarch would rally.
Elizabeth did not rally.
We will have that piece published in full shortly.
More reactions on the streets of Sydney
On the streets of Sydney, more people are reacting to the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.
Steve Greeson, standing in front of the Queen Victoria Building, said “it’s very sad”.
His first memory of the Queen was as a child seeing her on television when Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as the official national anthem in 1974.
George Sika thinks the Queen has had a good run and hopes he makes it to 96.
Hi first memories of the Queen are also on television. Sika believes she’s “done well for the Commonwealth … just to be there, just to be at the ceremonies for watching and she’s quite a charming, lovely lady”.
As for his opinion on Charles taking over, Sika says “he’s a bit of a boring guy”.
Alexander Downer says Charles would be wise to follow ‘the lead of his mother’
Former foreign minister high commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, said there was a “real sense of shock” and “great national despondency” in Britain.
He says King Charles would be wise to follow “the lead of his mother”, who was able to keep herself out of politics and serve with dignity. He said he was optimistic about the King’s ability to do that and predicts a “fairly favourable revaluation of him” in Australia.
Downer is speaking to the ABC from London.
There is certainly a sense of shock here as you could tell from Steve’s report just before this. Let me put that into some context. On Tuesday, and it’s now Thursday evening here in London, on Tuesday the Queen was accepting the resignation of Boris Johnson and swearing in Liz Truss as the new prime minister so yet, Wednesday, there were the photographs all over the newspapers of the Queen with Liz Truss, the new prime minister, and then she dies a day later. So there is a real sense of shock and I think great national despondency about it despite the fact that she was 96 and hadn’t been very well for quite some time but even so a sense of national despondency.
Downer predicts King Charles III will “go down pretty well with Australians” and that there would be a “fairly favourable revaluation of him”.
Well, I think, you know, Australians love the Queen and I think as far as King Charles is concerned there are two things they’ll think. They first of all feel they kind of know him but they only know him as Prince Charles so the second thing is that they’ll come to look upon him as a king and think about him in that context. I think that will – as it will in the UK and Canada and elsewhere, lead to a kind of revaluation of him which will probably be a fairly favourable revaluation of him. I think he will go down pretty well with Australians.
He remembers being nervous at his first meeting with the Queen as a child in about 1970 with his mother and father, Alick Downer, who was also a former high commissioner to the United Kingdom.
The Queen always put you at ease … She was a very modest person so quite easy to converse with, quite easy to spend time with. And she had a great love for Australia and a great interest in Australia. So whenever I met her she was full of questions about Australia. So we should be grateful that she loved our country so much and I guess she always knew that was reciprocated.
Malcolm Turnbull pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Malcolm Turnbull, a former head of the Australian Republican Movement, said the world was united in grief.
He said the Queen’s long life of service “inspired the whole world and was a calm and gracious presence”.
Reaction in Sydney after death of the Queen
Our reporter Natasha May is in Sydney, getting reactions to news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Speaking outside the Queen Victoria Building, Lucas Turvey says the news took him by surprise.
I only just found out about 10 minutes ago … I heard from my father.
Turvey says his family’s interest comes from their British background.
His work colleague Josh Ridge says he doesn’t have too many memories of the Queen himself but “most of my family were quite interested”.
I’m unfortunately the same from the younger generation where, where I didn’t go to as many events when she came to Australia so it’s not as prominent but certainly with older generations.
What happens next
Tomorrow (known as D+1) there will be the proclamation of the new sovereign in the UK, and the high commissioners of the realms will be invited as observers.
Any realm members of the UK Privy Council will be asked to attend, that includes Australian members, the Rt Hon Sir William Heseltine and Rt Hon Ian Sinclair.
A wreath will be laid at the Queen’s Terrace at Parliament House.
On Sunday, (D+2) the Executive Council will meet where the prime minister will recommend to the governor general that he issue the proclamation of accession.
The governor general will read the proclamation of a new sovereign at parliament, which is an event open to the public and there will be a 21 gun salute welcoming King Charles, who is likely to take the regal name, George.
In the UK, the (acting) Australian high commissioner to the UK, Lynette Wood, will attend a reception with the king.
The King will deliver a speech to the UK parliament on D-3 and then on D-6, the prime minister and governor general will travel to the UK for the next stage of the UK plans, including attending the Lying in State, audiences with the king, and the funeral, which will be held on D+10.
The Australian Monarchist League has just spoken to the ABC and has issued a public statement mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II.
It said her death marks the “close of the second Elizabethan era and heralds a new chapter in world history”.
The League said in a statement that King Charles would “unequivocally continue the longstanding traditions, dutiful service and vital constitutional role which epitomised our late Queen”.
Philip Benwell, national chair, said:
Australia, the Commonwealth of Nations and indeed the whole world will now deeply mourn the longest-serving, oldest and most revered monarch of modern times.
As the only Sovereign the majority of Australians have ever known, Her Majesty The Queen visited this country on 16 occasions and served as Queen of Australia for seventy years and 215 days.
The Queen’s selfless sense of service, her warm character, devotion to her family, and endearing smile will remain in the hearts of Australians for generations.
Memories of the Queen greeting Australian school children, adorned in the symbol of the wattle, and recognising the service of our armed forces on royal visits will be treasured for years to come.
Like the Queen, her son and heir Charles has served Australians selflessly, dutifully and with distinction, visiting Australia on 16 occasions himself, including a part of his education at Geelong Grammar.
Australia’s new King, who has trained for this role his entire life, was heir apparent for seventy years – the longest in Australian history.
Australians can take comfort in the knowledge that their new King will unequivocally continue the longstanding traditions, dutiful service and vital constitutional role which epitomised our late Queen.
Therefore, may we state that ancient chant which has echoed throughout the world for over a millennium: “The Queen is dead, long live the King!”
On the ABC, the Australian Monarchist League’s Alexander Woltz remembered the courage, enthusiasm and humour of the Queen. He predicts Australia may spend a fortnight in mourning.
One of the many anecdotes that will come out in coming days, he tells a story from Quentin Bryce, Former Governor-General of Australia.
She told a story of when she was hopping into the car with her late husband and the Queen and Prince Philip. And Michael Bryce went to put his seat belt on and the Queen said, “What are you doing with that, this is private property, you don’t seat a seat belt!
Queensland premier pays tribute to the Queen
Australian parliament suspended for 15 days after Queen’s death
The moment Buckingham Palace notified the governor general of the death of the Queen, a plan which has been worked on for years was put in place.
This plan has been passed from governor general to governor general, prime minister to prime minister, guided by the Palace, with exact details on what is to happen over the next 15 days.
The flags are already at half mast. Parliament is suspended for 15 days – so the sitting planned for next week is suspended.
The prime minister and cabinet website and the governor general website will switch to obituary format, and will contain information on events planned for Australia.
For the next fortnight, there will be condolence books at Parliament House, Government House and the PM&C website.
This evening at dusk, there will be a gun salute, with one shot for every year of the queen’s life, with a 10-second interval between each.
That’s the first day. There will be plenty more in the days that follow.
Albanese says Queen Elizabeth II was a “wise and enduring presence” in Australia’s national life. She consulted with 16 separate prime ministers and 16 governors-general served in her name, Albanese says, and the Queen visited every corner of “our vast continent”.
Her words were a source of comfort and solace for millions of Australians, he said.
Travelling to every state and territory across our vast continent. Her first visit with Philip began on February 3, 1954, just eight months after her coronation. It was the biggest single event that got organised in Australia. And it remains a defining moment in our nation’s history. Some seven million Australians, or 70% of our population at the time, turned out to catch a glimpse of the young Queen passing by. Queen Elizabeth II was a wise and enduring presence in our national life. 16 prime ministers consulted with her. And 16 governors-general served in her name. Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II showed a deep affection for our country. As she said at the Sydney Opera House in the year 2000, “Since I first stepped shore here, I have felt part of this rugged, honest, creative land. I have shared in the joys and the sorrow, the challenges that have shaped this country’s history.” Her Majesty celebrated our good times, and she stood with us during trials and hardships. Happy and glorious, but steadfast, too. In particular, we recall the sympathy and personal kindness she extended to Australians afflicted by tragedy and disaster. From floods and bushfires, to wars and a pandemic. Her words and presence were a source of comfort, hope and solace for millions of Australians.
Albanese says he will travel with the governor general to London in coming days to convey the “sorrow of Australians” and give the nation’s best wishes to the King and the Queen consort.
Queen Elizabeth II has been a wise and encouraging guide, always wanting the best for our nation and greeting each change with understanding, good grace and an abiding faith in the Australian people’s judgement. From her first trip here, it was clear Her Majesty had a special place in our hearts, and we, in hers. In the coming days, the governor general and I will be heading to London where we will meet the King. We will convey the sorrow of Australians, as well as our best wishes to him and the Queen Consort as he takes on his duties as sovereign. Over the next 48 hours, more details will be shared about the arrangements for the Queen’s funeral and memorial.