Buckingham Palace, London, England
Robbie Lawrence for TIME
September 9, 2022 6:07 PM EDT

Braving strong wind and rain, a silent line of mourners snaked to the wrought iron gate of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace on Friday, patiently waiting their turn to read the official notice announcing Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. To one side, flower bouquets piled against the granite wall of an improvised memorial garden—most with heartfelt messages attached to the only monarch most Brits have ever known.

London, England
Jack Davison for TIME
London, England
Jack Davison for TIME

Across the United Kingdom, the death of the Queen has left a chasm. At Balmoral Castle, where Britain’s longest-serving monarch died aged 96 on Thursday afternoon, floral tributes continue to amass. At London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, a service of prayer and reflection on Friday was attended by 2,000 members of the public as well as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, who last saw Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday when she asked to form a government. Truss is the 15th Prime Minister the Queen had met; the first was Winston Churchill.

Edinburgh, Scotland (Michael Vince Kim for TIME)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Michael Vince Kim for TIME

Arriving at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, the unhappy news hit Britons hard. Most were home or crowded into pubs to enjoy an after-work libation. Within hours, a crowd of thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London in solemn remembrance, finally breaking into muffled cheers of “God save the King” when Charles III arrived Friday to a home he has known for 70 years as prince but now entered as sovereign for the very first time. Accompanied by Queen Consort Camila, the new King, dressed in a dark suit, greeted the throng as he examined the tributes left to his revered, departed mother.

Read More: Queen Elizabeth’s Passing Could Push Some Countries to Alter Their Ties to the British Monarchy

“[Queen Elizabeth] encompasses so much of what is Britain,” Eleanor Allingham, from Edinburgh, told TIME outside Buckingham Palace on Thursday. “She was a huge role model for everyone, every woman, every British person.”

Edinburgh, Scotland
Michael Vince Kim for TIME
Edinburgh, Scotland
Michael Vince Kim for TIME

But the Queen was in fact the constitutional head of state for 14 other nations, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Belize, Jamaica, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. All have also been paying their own tributes. In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “For most Canadians, we have known no other Sovereign. She would proclaim ‘it was good to be home’ when returning to her beloved Canada. She was indeed at home here, and Canadians never ceased to return her affection.”

Edinburgh, Scotland (Michael Vince Kim for TIME)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Michael Vince Kim for TIME

At the same time, the Queen’s death is reigniting debate about the legacy of the British Empire, which was already dwindling at the time of her coronation in 1953. In its stead, a Commonwealth of independent former colonies maintained close bonds with their erstwhile empress. In Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, people stayed glued to their television sets for the latest news on arcane royal funeral rites.

Read More: What We Know So Far About Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral

Still, amid the outpouring of grief and gratitude in far-flung dominions, questions will rumble louder and bolder about why King Charles III should now be their head of state from thousands of miles away. Last year, Barbados decided to become a republic, although it will remain part of the Commonwealth. Other nations will be wrestling with similar sentiments. Adam Bandt, the leader of Australia’s Greens Party, posted condolences to the Queen’s family on Twitter, but adding “Now Australia must move forward … [and] become a Republic.”

—With reporting by Yasmeen Serhan/London

London, England (Olivia Harris for TIME)
London, England
Olivia Harris for TIME
London, England (Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME)
London, England
Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME

Buckingham Palace, London, England
Robbie Lawrence for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Robbie Lawrence for TIME
London, England (Olivia Harris for TIME)
London, England
Olivia Harris for TIME
London, England (Olivia Harris for TIME)
London, England
Olivia Harris for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England (Stuart Franklin—Magnum Photos for TIME)
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Stuart Franklin—Magnum Photos for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England (Stuart Franklin—Magnum Photos for TIME)
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Stuart Franklin—Magnum Photos for TIME
Tom Hartley, the newly appointed British High Commissioner, in Nassau, Bahamas (Melissa Alcena for TIME)
Tom Hartley, the newly appointed British High Commissioner, in Nassau, Bahamas
Melissa Alcena for TIME
Nassau, Bahamas (Melissa Alcena for TIME)
Nassau, Bahamas
Melissa Alcena for TIME
A celebratory toast for a life well-lived at a liquor store in Nevis (Kacey Jeffers for TIME)
A celebratory toast for a life well-lived at a liquor store in Nevis
Kacey Jeffers for TIME
Stamps at the Nevis Philatelic Bureau in Nevis, an island in the Caribbean Sea (Kacey Jeffers for TIME)
Stamps at the Nevis Philatelic Bureau in Nevis, an island in the Caribbean Sea
Kacey Jeffers for TIME
Ras Iroy, 55, community organizer and activist, Nevis (Kacey Jeffers for TIME)
Ras Iroy, 55, community organizer and activist, Nevis
Kacey Jeffers for TIME

Dean Harry J.L.Bain says a prayer in honor of Queen Elizabeth II in Nassau, Bahamas
Melissa Alcena for TIME
Sexton Vendel Bowe rings the church bell 96 times to signify the years that Queen Elizabeth lived, in Nassau, Bahamas
Melissa Alcena for TIME
Nelson, New Zealand (Tatsiana Chypsanava for TIME)
Nelson, New Zealand
Tatsiana Chypsanava for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England (Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME)
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME

London, England
Jack Davison for TIME
London, England
Jack Davison for TIME

London, England
Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Jamie Hawkesworth for TIME

London, England
Jack Davison for TIME
London, England
Jack Davison for TIME

Buckingham Palace, London, England
Robbie Lawrence for TIME
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Robbie Lawrence for TIME

 

 

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Write to Charlie Campbell at [email protected].

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