Queen Elizabeth II: Watch as Sunderland in mourning for a 'brilliant leader' who was the 'backbone of Britain'

It was a sombre mood on the streets of Sunderland this morning (September 9) as residents mourning the death of the Queen described her as “Britain’s backbone” and a “brilliant leader” who will be greatly missed.

Buckingham Palace confirmed last night that Elizabeth II had sadly passed away at Balmoral at the age of 96.

Grey skies above Wearside reflected the subdued mood of those in the city centre, while flags at both Sunderland’s City Hall and Minster fluttered at half mast in tribute to the country’s longest-reigning monarch.

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Among those still coming to terms with the news was care worker Ronnie Hancox, 53, from Hartlepool.

He said: “I know she was 96 and ailing, but I was still shocked at the speed it happened. One day she was meeting the new Prime Minister and a couple of days later she passed away.

"I was born at a time when the Queen has always been there as our figurehead. It’s a very sad day. I think she will be remembered as our country’s backbone. When people around the world think of the UK they think of Queen Elizabeth II.

"Going back to WW2, she was actively involved in helping the war effort.”

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Flags at half mast as Sunderland pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth
A framed photograph in Sunderland Minster of Queen Elizabeth II.

It was a sentiment shared by retired machinist, Colleen Scott, 80, who said: “It was really sad news, particularly the speed it happened. I think the Queen will be remembered as a kind person.

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"I think Charles will make a good king.”

Jean and Robin Freake, both 81 and from Houghton, were keen to highlight the strong ambassadorial role the Queen played in building political bridges.

Jean said: “I loved the Queen and I’m really upset. She didn’t make a fuss about things and played a key role in making friends with foreign ministers.

A tribute to Queen Elizabeth II projected onto one of the city's digital screens.
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"I think she was an absolutely brilliant leader.”

Robin added: “I think Charles will make a good king. He’s waited long enough for it and deserves it.”

News of the Queen’s death has reverberated around the world, and not just within the Commonwealth.

University of Sunderland senior lecturer, Ralf Brog, 55, lives in Dusseldorf, and travels to Sunderland one week each month to meet with students.

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Colleen Scott, 80, was saddened by the Queen's death.

He said: “I’m sad but also impressed with the depth of the country’s reaction. Being from Germany, I wasn’t quite aware how deeply she’s rooted into everyday life.

"This is big news right across Europe and has been the first thing coming up on German news which I think shows the high regard she’s held in around the world.”

University Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell, added: “It’s very sad news. The Queen has been a wonderful institution for all of her reign, a wonderful example of service and the nation will mourn her passing. I think she’ll be remembered as someone who gave outstanding and selfless service – it’s quite remarkable.”

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The Queen was also head of the Church of England, and to recognise her passing, Sunderland Minster opened a book of condolences and was hosting a 7pm vigil service on Friday as well as the day before the funeral.

Rev Chris Howson said: “We are praying for the Queen and all those affected by her death, and for a nation which is mourning the loss of a great servant. She will be remembered for longevity and service.”

Rev Chris Howson said the Queen would be remembered for her longevity and service.
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St George's Cross flying at half-mast above Sunderland Minster.
University of Sunderland Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell.
The city's residents have been reacting the the death of the Queen.
Sunderland Minster will be holding a vigil service the day before the Queen's state funeral.
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Jean and Robin Freake, both 81, were big supporters of the Queen.
The Union Jack, flying at half-mast outside the City Hall.
Ronnie Hancox described the Queen as the "backbone of Britain".
Ralf Brog, 55, said the Queen's passing has been big news in his homeland of Germany.