Royal Hillsborough mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II

At the gates of Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, the royal residence in Northern Ireland, a purple floral arrangement designed in the shape of a crown had been left on the ground.

A simple white card in the middle of the flowers read: “The heart of the world is broken.”

As the news of the death of the Queen filtered through to locals in the small village with strong royal connections, more and more people came to the imposing castle gates to lay their tributes, or simply to take comfort from sharing their grief.

The union flag on the castle flew at half-mast as the rain became steadier and more persistent, mirroring the sense of sadness among those who had gathered.

Lyndsey Gault came to Hillsborough Castle to pay tribute after the death of the Queen Credit: Jonathan McCambridge/PA

These included Lyndsey Gault, 24, who had travelled from Dromore to lay flowers.

She said: “I have come to pay my respects to such an amazing, godly woman.

“She had 70 years of service to our country but also she showed us how much faith she had, even in hard times, when she was a young woman and she helped with the war effort.

“She has been so strong for our country, she dedicated her life to it and it is just so wonderful that someone would have done that for us.

“I was devastated, I don’t think I have stopped crying since I heard.”

Among those at the castle were the leaders of the two main unionist parties in Northern Ireland, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP and Doug Beattie of the UUP.

The two political adversaries shared a quiet moment of grief as they shook hands and chatted solemnly in front of the castle gates before inspecting the tributes.

Sir Jeffrey drew attention to the links between the Queen and the Co Down village.

He said: “This is terribly sad news, right across Northern Ireland there is an outpouring of emotion.

“We are seeing it already in Hillsborough with some floral tributes arriving already and some poignant messages from local residents.

“Here in the village there was great affection for for Her Majesty and many fond memories over her visits over the years of her reign.”