Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 19:51 GMT
Queen Mother dies
The Queen Mother has died at the age of 101, Buckingham Palace has announced. "Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had become increasingly frail in recent weeks following her bad cough and chest infection over Christmas," said a Palace spokesman.
"Her condition deteriorated this morning and her doctors were called. "Queen Elizabeth died peacefully in her sleep at 3.15 this afternoon at Royal Lodge (Windsor)," said the spokesman. "The Queen was at her mother's bedside," he said.
The Queen Mother's coffin is expected to be moved to the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park on Sunday morning. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family will not attend Easter service as planned at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Sunday and will instead attend a private service.
The Queen Mother's death comes less than two months after that of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret, who died on 9 February at the age of 71.
young girl stands by floral tributes to the late Queen Mother at the Palace of
House in Edinburgh on Sunday. Photo: Ben Curtis/AFP
Charles pays tribute
A spokeswoman for Prince Charles, who is on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, said: "He was completely devastated by the news. "He just wants to get back from holiday in Klosters. "The plan is he will leave Switzerland tomorrow morning with Princes William and Harry. He wants to go straight to Windsor."
The Duke of York, who was also abroad, was told the news in Barbados where he was on holiday with his ex-wife, the Duchess of York, and their children Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Other members of the Royal Family were already arriving at Windsor for their traditional Easter gathering.
Tributes were led by Prime Minister Tony Blair who, in a statement from his official country residence at Chequers, said the Queen Mother had been a symbol of Britain's "decency and courage".
She married the future King - in 1923
He said the whole nation join with the Queen and Royal Family in mourning, and added: "During her long and extraordinary life, her grace, her sense of duty and her remarkable zest for life made her loved and admired by people of all ages and backgrounds, revered within our borders and beyond."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "We are all the poorer because this gracious lady has been taken from us. "Her unfailing dignity, devotion to duty and charm have been a precious part of our national life for as long as most of us can remember." Dr Carey also recalled her "deep and sustaining faith" and said "Christian love shone through her character".
Among other political tributes, Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith described the Queen Mother as a "truly remarkable lady" and said her family's grief would be "shared by millions". Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy said: "This is a moment for the entire nation to pause, reflect and be thankful for the Queen Mother's wonderful contribution and enduring legacy." Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher said the Queen Mother had been "a wonderful Queen and an extraordinary person" and her death was "an irreplaceable loss to the whole nation".
Lord St John of Fawsley, a close friend of the Queen Mother for many years, said: "With the passing of the Queen Mother we have lost our most treasured national person. "She was not merely an historical figure. She was history."
Meanwhile, outside Buckingham Palace hundreds of people gathered as dusk fell on Saturday, reading the death announcement posted on the gates. The union flag is flying at half mast over the palace, although no members of the Royal Family are there.
POSTED AT 9:51 AM EST Sunday, April 7
Britons mourn royal matriarch and mimic
Reuters News Agency
London — An ever-stretching line of mourners snaked through central London on Sunday as thousands of Britons waited up to 12 hours to file past the Queen Mother's coffin, lying in state two days before her funeral. Many queued through the night to pay respects to the 101-year-old royal matriarch, famed for rallying Londoners during Germany's bombing raids 60 years ago and remembered on Sunday by her teenage great-grandsons as an irreverent mimic.
Officials said 100,000 people had passed through London's medieval Westminster Hall, where statues of Saxon kings gaze down on the coffin of the former queen who died a week ago, 50 years after her husband King George VI. The Queen Mother's lying in state followed a funeral procession on Friday which drew the biggest crowd of monarchists and onlookers since the death of Princess Diana in 1997, giving an unexpected boost to Britain's royal family.
"The monarchy is less embattled than royalists have feared and republicans have hoped," the Sunday Telegraph declared.
Queen Elizabeth, who has suffered the double blow of losing her mother and her only sibling, 71-year-old Princess Margaret, in the same year, expressed her gratitude on Saturday. "The queen has been very touched that so many people are paying their respects," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.
Police said on Sunday that Westminster Hall would remain open until 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday, just five hours before the funeral service in nearby Westminster Abbey, to allow as many people as possible to file by. But they warned people early on Sunday morning they faced a seven-kilometre queue and a possible 12-hour wait to pay their respects. Volunteers had already handed out 22,000 gallons of tea to sustain them.
Before Tuesday's funeral at Westminster Abbey — to be attended by royalty and heads of state from at least a dozen countries — a bell will toll there 101 times, once for each year of the Queen Mother's life. Guests at the service will include Laura Bush, wife of the U.S. president, and the prime ministers of former colonies Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Buckingham Palace said.
Lifting the sombre mood of mourning, her great-grandsons revealed what they said was her mischievous sense of humour and inspirational character. "Anything that was meant to be formal and went wrong she enjoyed," said 19-year-old Prince William, second in line to the British throne. "She would have a good giggle." His younger brother Harry, 17, recalled how, after a recent Christmas lunch, she tried to imitate Ali G, a popular spoof gangster rapper played by a television comedian whose catchphrase is "Respec,'" with a snap of the fingers. "It was at the end of the meal, and she stood up and said, 'Darling, lunch was marvellous — respec,'" Harry was quoted as saying in British newspapers.
The mass display of affection for the Queen Mother has bolstered a royal family dogged by scandals and deaths in recent years, which many said would undermine it for good. Two opinion polls published on Sunday made mixed reading for Queen Elizabeth II and her offspring. Only just over half of people canvassed by the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror in two separate surveys believed the 75-year-old queen should continue to rule.
The news was better for her son and heir Prince Charles, with a small majority in both polls supporting his marriage to longtime companion, Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles was unpopular six years ago when his marriage to the much-loved Diana ended with admissions of adultery on both sides. Opinions have mellowed since, and Ms. Parker Bowles is invited to Tuesday's funeral.
Below is the personal standard of the Queen Mother, last brought down on 7th April, I believe. Draped on her coffin before and after her funeral on April 9th., 2002