Flowers build up at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in tribute to 'devoted' Queen Elizabeth II

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A mass of flowers is already lining the gates at the Queen's Sandringham Estate, as mourners travel for hours to pay their respects to the country's longest-serving monarch.

The first members of the public arrived minutes after news of her death was announced on Thursday evening, with many people arriving to pay their tributes.

The rain on Friday morning proved no deterrent to the hordes of well-wishers who came to leave flowers and cards at the estate's Norwich Gates.

Arrangements have been made to accommodate large numbers of people, with the road beside the gates closed to traffic and floodlights put along it, and police controlling roads into the estate with a one-way system.

Teddy bears and tealights have been laid by the iron gates, as well as hundreds of carefully place bouquets of flowers, many of them with handwritten messages attached.

People travelled for many hours to pay their tributes. Credit: PA

Two-year-old Phoenix Child clutched a Paddington Bear toy as he laid a bouquet of flowers at the gates, encouraged by his grandmother Dolores McKenna.

Teaching assistant Ms McKenna, 58, from the nearby town of King’s Lynn, said: “The Queen is part of our heritage and she’s just such a lovely woman.

“We’ve followed her all our lives and (Phoenix) has all of his life. She’s just a wonderful person.”

She said she felt “saddened” and “overwhelmed” by news of the Queen’s death, adding: “We knew it was imminent but not this quick."

“She’s died with dignity, which is so lovely, and her faith has sustained her through this journey as well to the very end. That’s a quality I admire in her as well.”

Food technologist Lisa Meyer, also from King’s Lynn, said the news “sort of hit me” when she heard, adding she was “absolutely devastated”.

The 50-year-old said: “The Queen’s been around all of my life.”

John Houston of the Merchant Navy Association at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Credit: PA

She said the news particularly affected her as it was “losing someone who’s always been around” and also because her “paternal grandmother looked very like her” and would get mistaken for the Queen.

“She would come for walks around Sandringham when she was alive and people would say ‘morning ma’am’ as she used to dress a little bit like her,” said Ms Meyer.

“It was always a running joke in our family that we had the Queen in our family as well. I think it was a mixture of that bringing back memories as well. I was absolutely devastated.

“The first thing I did was I went to see my mum and dad and said we need to pay our respects.

“It was a little bit too late to come last night so first thing this morning before I started work we had a drive up here. Just to do something to get those feelings out.”

She said she would visit again at the weekend with her children.

Heartfelt messages of condolence have begun to pile up. Credit: PA

Gardener Hilary-Fay Mellor, who laid a bouquet of flowers, said: “She was such a remarkable woman and she was the same age as my mum.

“That generation were just quite extraordinary. There’ll never be people, I don’t think, with that strength again.

“She was sort of glue that held people together. I think she was a very strong, devoted sovereign.”

She said she decided to lay a floral tribute as “it just feels like when everyone’s at a bit of a loss it’s something that people can all come together to do”.

“It’s something you can do when everybody’s perhaps feeling a bit wobbly,” said the 63-year-old, from the village of Heacham.

People who remembered meeting the Queen shared their memories. Credit: PA

Her son Seth Mellor, 23, recalled the Queen visiting his school when he was a child.

“Someone who’s that important to the country, them coming just to a primary school or high school, it sort of shows what sort of a person she was,” he said.

“To take that time just to come to a primary school and shake hands with an 11-year-old, that shows she was a woman of the people, definitely.

“In a sort of sad way in a time when a lot of us are sort of divided in a lot of different ways, it has brought our country together.”

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