‘The very spirit of Great Britain’: Tributes to the Queen flood in from across the political spectrum

The UK's most senior political figures have expressed their condolences following the death of the Queen on Thursday afternoon aged 96.

In a statement made at 6.30pm, Buckingham Palace said: "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."

Read more: How 'Lilibet' became one of Britain's greatest ever monarchs – obituary

Her son, now King Charles III, has become her successor.

It came after senior members of the Royal Family rushed to Balmoral in Scotland after the Palace announced her doctors were "concerned for Her Majesty’s health".

Condolences have poured in from politicians from across the political spectrum following her death.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Queen Elizabeth greets newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle for an audience where she will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government on September 6, 2022 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Queen broke with the tradition of meeting the new prime minister and Buckingham Palace, after needing to remain at Balmoral Castle due to mobility issues. (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Truss said the Queen was 'the rock on which modern Britain was built'. (Getty Images).

Prime minister Liz Truss, who was appointed to the role just two days ago by the Queen, said she was "the rock on which modern Britain was built".

"In the difficult days ahead, we will come together with our friends across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world to celebrate her extraordinary lifetime of service."

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the Queen was "our longest-serving and greatest monarch".

Read more: Queen Elizabeth's 70 years of service in pictures

"Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon," he said.

"As Britain changed rapidly around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world.

"So as our great Elizabethan era comes to an end, we will honour the late Queen's memory by keeping alive the values of public service she embodied."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 05: (L-R 2nd Row) Victoria Starmer, Keir Starmer, Lena Tindall, Zara Tindall, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, (front row) Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge watch the Platinum Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Keir Starmer was spotted with the Royal Family celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June. (Getty)

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Ian Blackford said his "thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences" were with the Royal Family.

"The Queen was a constant figurehead throughout our lives, and she showed an inspiring commitment to the values of leadership, duty and service throughout her long reign," he said.

"In the period ahead, there will be time to reflect on the incomparable legacy and impact that the Queen had on these islands, our history and world events."

Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey said the Queen served the country "faithfully all her life".

"The Queen was an ever-fixed mark in our lives," he said. "She represented duty and courage, warmth and compassion."

Queen Elizabeth II receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week. Picture date: Wednesday June 29, 2022.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Queen's life 'was one of extraordinary dedication and service'. (PA)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the first in-person weekly audience with the Prime Minister since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, at Buckingham Palace in London, Briain June 23, 2021. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
Boris Johnson also paid tribute to the monarch. (Reuters)

Leaders of devolved administrations across the UK also expressed their sadness.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said her passing was a "profoundly sad moment for the UK, the Commonwealth and the world".

Sturgeon said the Queen's life "was one of extraordinary dedication and service", and sent her condolences to the king on behalf of Scotland.

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said the Queen "firmly upheld the values and traditions of the British monarchy".

Read more: Queen Elizabeth dies, ending longest British reign

"We pay tribute to Her Majesty's dedication and selfless devotion," he said. "She will be sorely missed by the many organisations for which she was a patron and president."

Former prime ministers also publicly expressed their sorrow.

Tony Blair said: "We have lost not just our monarch but the matriarch of our nation, the figure who more than any other brought our country together, kept us in touch with our better nature, personified everything which makes us proud to be British."

Boris Johnson said it was the nation's "saddest day", and that the Queen had "modernised the constitutional monarchy".

"Though our voices may still be choked with sadness, we can say with confidence the words not heard in this country for more than seven decades: God save the King."

Queen Elizabeth IaI smiles as she is introduced to  Labour party leader Tony Blair during a visit to the Thorn Lighting factory in Spennymoor, County Durham, October 13. The Queen and Prince- Phillip were on a one day visit to the north east were she officially opened a new development for the Korean company Samsung
Former prime minister Tony Blair said the Queen was the 'matriarch of our nation'. (PA)

Gordon Brown said "the entire world are joined together in mourning".

He added: "HM Queen Elizabeth II served this country to the last. I offer my sincere condolences to the Royal Family. May she rest in peace."

Theresa May said it was the "honour of [her] life to serve as her prime minister", and said the Queen "devoted herself unreservedly to a life of service".

The Queen was the longest-reigning British monarch in history, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in 2022 after 70 years on the throne.

Read more: King Charles III: Longest monarch-in-waiting whose time has finally come

Crowds broke out into the national anthem outside Buckingham Palace following the announcement of her death, with many weeping after the flag was lowered to half mast.

Her son, King Charles, said it was "a moment of greatest sadness for me and all members of my family".

"We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and much-loved mother.

"I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world."

In a speech to mark her 21st birthday in 1947, the Queen vowed to dedicate her life to the service of the Commonwealth.

"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."