News & Politics

Washingtonians Are Lining Up to Sign a Condolence Book for Queen Elizabeth

The book will be available at the British Embassy to sign from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Friday.

Visitors to the British embassy in Washington, DC, can leave messages for the royal family in a condolence book. Photograph by Keely Bastow.

A line formed in front of the British Embassy in Washington, DC, on Monday morning as visitors waited to sign a condolence book for the late Queen Elizabeth II. Some in line happily shared memories of the queen and the royal family with each other, while some wiped away tears. 

A mother signs the condolences book while her daughter looks at a picture of Queen Elizabeth II displayed on the table. Photograph by Keely Bastow.

The British Embassy laid out a book of condolences after the Royal Family’s announcement last Thursday afternoon that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away at her home in Scotland. An hour after the news broke, the White House told the embassy that President Biden would like to come and pay his respects, and both he and the First Lady visited on Friday to bring flowers and sign the book.

The Bidens are not the only Washington dignitaries who have paid their respects to the queen and the royal family. Vice President Kamala Harris and the First Gentleman as well as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also paid visits and signed the condolence book. 

On Monday morning, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley laid a bouquet of flowers on the Union Jack outside the embassy, with a note addressed to the British public. The bouquet of white lilies that the Bidens brought is on display in the signing room between a British and an American flag. 

President Biden and the First Lady brought a bouquet of white lilies, now on display in the signing room, when they signed the condolence book. Photograph by Keely Bastow.

Officials from the embassy told Washingtonian they were extremely touched that the President and First Lady came right away, and have been moved at the sight of both Brits and Americans coming to pay their respects. 

At the memorial for Queen Elizabeth II, one visitor left a bouquet with a balloon attached that reads, “Love you Grandma!” Photograph by Keely Bastow.

The day after her passing, hundreds of people mourning the passing of the queen waited in a line that circled the parking lot. (The condolence book has been divided between three tables, so more people can sign at one time, and will be combined later.) The line was considerably lighter Monday morning, but officials expect traffic to pick up in the afternoons and continue throughout the week. Some visitors brought gifts: one child gave a hand-crocheted Queen Elizabeth doll to embassy workers and another placed a balloon with “Love you Grandma” among the flowers laid along the edge of the Union Jack.

Washingtonians will be able to sign the condolence book until Friday at 5 p.m. After that, the book, as well as eight others on display at consulates around the country, will be sent to Buckingham Palace to be given to King Charles III and the royal family and kept in the archives. 

For some Washingtonians, this is a familiar process—a condolence book  was put out after the death of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, last April. 

Editorial Fellow

Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.