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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Nina Lloyd

Earl and Countess of Wessex meet mourners on walkabout in Windsor

PA Wire

The Earl and Countess of Wessex received a warm welcome as they viewed a sea of flowers and tributes left for the Queen during a walkabout in Windsor.

Edward and Sophie smiled and laughed as they shook hands and accepted bouquets from mourners lined up outside Cambridge Gate on Friday.

The Queen’s youngest son told mourners offering him their condolences: “I think we’ve all lost someone”, after paying tribute to his “beloved mama” in a statement earlier in the afternoon.

The crowds erupted into applause and cheers once the couple had finished their walkabout and walked through the gates of the castle.

Well-wishers who spoke with Sophie said she had acknowledged the “rather stoic” mourners who had endured an hours-long queue to pay their respects to the late monarch at Westminster Hall.

“She said, ‘Have you braved the queue down in London?’ and we said we hadn’t and she said, ‘You have to be rather stoic’,” Whitney Bacon-Evans, 34, said.

The Earl of Wessex viewing tributes outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Ms Bacon-Evans, from Windsor, added: “She had a very good handshake, very strong. I said she looked beautiful and I was so sorry for her loss and she said ‘thank you’.”

Speaking to another group, Edward said: “She was such an amazing presence in our lives for such a long time.”

Sophie, dressed in black, appeared emotional as she read messages left for the Queen outside the castle gates.

She promised one well-wisher “I will lay them for you” as she was given the flowers, which she said were “lovely”.

Among the tributes lining Cambridge Gate were sunflowers, cards and a large model of Paddington Bear holding a red rose.

Hundreds of mourners continue to attend the royal residence daily to pay their respects to the Queen.

More than 50,000 stems have been sold since her death by one flower shop alone, with a local florist describing the period as “Christmas, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day all wrapped into one”.

Darling Buds of Windsor florist Natalie Prince, 35, near Windsor Castle (Nina Lloyd/PA) (PA Wire)

Natalie Prince, 35, who works at the family-run Darling Buds of Windsor, said the most popular blooms had been royal purple hydrangeas, sunflowers and stocks, thought to be one of the Queen’s favourites.

She said: “I’ve never seen, in 13 years of being a florist, a demand this high.”

Other bouquets featuring prominently outside the castle gates were red roses, which mourners said were to symbolise their love for the late monarch, and various purple flowers, because of the colour’s association with royalty.

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