Royal Family won't open physical official books of condolence

Royal Family won’t open official books of condolence at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace and invite public to contribute online instead – as churches, town halls and theatres offer people chance to record their best wishes

  • Books of condolence for the Queen are being opened across the country
  • However, no official book of condolence will be available to sign in person
  • Thousands have gathered outside Buckingham Palace, leaving piles of flowers 
  • The scenes are reminiscent of the  outpouring of grief for Princess Diana in 1997
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

Official books of condolence for The Queen will not be opened at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or any other Royal properties and will be online only, the Royal Family has said.

Books of condolence for the Queen are being opened in churches, theatres and local authorities across the country.

The Royal Family added its ‘Book of Condolence’ to the official website, allowing people from all over the world to send messages of support as crowds gather in mourning for the late Queen.

Crowds outside Buckingham Palace have laid flowers and messages in memory of Elizabeth II in scenes reminiscent of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

After Diana’s tragic car accident, people lined the streets to sign a book of condolence at Kensington Palace, where thousands of flowers covered the ground.

This time, there will be no physical books of condolence at any of the royal residences but members of the public can leave their messages online.

Crowds outside Buckingham Palace have laid flowers and messages in memory of Elizabeth II in scenes reminiscent of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997

The Royal Family has said condolences can be made online but there will be no official books of condolence 

Mountains of flowers have been left outside Buckingham Palace in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

Thousands have gathered outside the palace since yesterday to mourn the late monarch 

The Royal Family website states: ‘A selection of messages will be passed onto members of the Royal Family, and may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.’  

Neither the royal family nor the Government will be able to receive books of condolence. 

In its national mourning guidance, the royal family said: ‘There will be opportunities to sign books of condolence at various Town Halls and other locations throughout the UK. Please check with your Local Authority.’ 

The guidance also says that any organisation or person may open a book of condolence during the period of national mourning. 

Books are usually placed on a trestle table with a white tablecloth, an arrangement of flowers – typically lilies or other white flowers – and a framed formal photograph of the Queen with a black ribbon wrapped around the top right hand corner as a mark of respect. 

Local councils across the UK have been setting up books for people to write messages of support – some physically, and others online. 

Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said in a statement: ‘Councils have been proud to serve Her Majesty throughout her reign and will continue to do so by now putting into place local arrangements to support the public in expressing their own sympathies. 

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen are seen here viewing the mountains of flowers that were left outside Buckingham Palace in memory of Princess Diana, on September 5 1997

Prince Charles with Prince William and Prince Harry. They are looking at flowers left to his wife and their mother outside Kensington Palace. The photo was taken in September 1997

‘These arrangements will include the opening of both public and virtual books of condolence, ensuring flags are flown at half mast, and overseeing arrangements for the laying of flowers in public areas.’ 

Portsmouth City Council, Westminster City Council, Swansea Council, Derby City Council, Preston City Council, Nottingham City Council, Lancashire County Council and Belfast City Council are among those who have already set up books for local residents to sign. 

Elsewhere, the Church of England website has opened an online memorial book and encourages people to light a virtual candle for the Queen. 

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers also encouraged parishes to open books of condolences as it recommended tolling muffled bells for one hour from noon on Friday. 

Birmingham’s St Philip’s Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral and Wakefield Cathedral are among those hosting books of condolence for visitors to sign. 

Theatres across the country are also opening books of condolences as well as dimming their lights, observing a minute’s silence and playing the national anthem prior to performances as mark of their respect.

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