Why the outpouring of love for the Queen at Sandringham was so special

ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura interviews well-wisher Jane Wells at Sandringham.
ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura interviews well-wisher Jane Wells at Sandringham. Credit: PA
  • ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura shares her experiences of reporting on a remarkable 11 days at Sandringham

If I could describe the experience of reporting on the Queen's death in one word, it would be "surreal."

Broadcasters have been rehearsing the death of a major Royal for decades, but nothing can prepare you for the enormity of reporting on the announcement in real-time.

As soon as the statement from the Palace was released about Her Majesty's poor health, I was told to head to Sandringham as the newsroom awaited more updates.

Hours went by, but then, at 6.30pm on the evening of September 8, the devastating confirmation came: "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow," the brief statement read.

It was from that point on that Sandringham became like a second home for me for the 11 days of national mourning that followed.

As the Queen's death was announced, and the news reached those far and wide around the globe, the first stream of people made their way to the Norwich Gates at the Queen's private Sandringham estate to lay flowers.

A single white lily was laid outside the Norwich Gates after news of the Queen's death was announced. Credit: ITV News Anglia

I will never forget a single white lily being placed alongside the Union flag in front of the gates.

At that stage, it was hard to imagine the sea of flowers that would eventually cover the area in front of those iconic gates, but as the days passed, the tributes just continued to grow and grow.

As space quickly disappeared, the flowers started to line the walls along the estate as well- with some mourners leaving photographs and Paddington Bear cuddly toys.

Sandringham really did become a place of comfort for hundreds of thousands of people. A place where many could share their grief, share their memories of the Queen and share compassion.

  • Watch a video showing how the number of flowers has grown at Sandringham since the Queen's death

One of the most touching moments was when the new Prince and Princess of Wales came to admire the tributes that had been left for the Queen.

That day, thousands of people from all over the country packed together outside the gates to get a glimpse of the royal couple and to let them know that they weren't alone. The outpouring of love was just extraordinary, as was the way that Prince William and Kate interacted with everyone who was there. It will stay with me forever.

If this was an indication of what William will be like as a future King, then we're in safe hands.

To be one of the first journalists at Sandringham when the news was announced is a moment I will always cherish.

Prince William meets the crowds at Sandringham. Credit: PA

It was like no other story I have covered in seven years of being a journalist. It was quite simply the biggest story I have ever worked on, and am ever likely to work on.The responsibility to get it right was huge. Not just for myself, but for my team who have worked so hard for years, and for our viewers of course.People would often come up to me and share their memories of the Queen - some wanting to talk about losing their own family members. Moments that will stay with me for as long as I live.It honestly was a privilege to be part of such an historic occasion - and to do it in a place which the Queen loved so much, and where she was loved by so many.

Only time will tell what the post-Elizabethan era will bring. As the official mourning period now comes to an end, reality starts to sink in. 

What kind of monarch will King Charles III be? Can King Charles capture the Queen's popularity? Are we ready for a new King?

The eyes of the world are now on him as he starts a job like no other.

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