Today, The Queen and Prince Charles have sent their condolences to the people of France after yesterday’s destructive fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Her Majesty said she was ‘deeply saddened’ by the news, while her son and daughter-in-law were ‘utterly heartbroken’ by the incident.
The fire, which blazed for some 10 hours, saw the roof collapse and the central spire topple in dramatic orange flames. It is still not clear how the fire began, but the building was undergoing renovations at the time. Luckily, just the day before, important religious statues were removed from the roof to allow for work.
In her message to the French President Emmanuel Macron, said: “Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral.
“I extend my sincere admiration to the emergency services who have risked their lives to try to save this important national monument.
“My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time.”
The message was signed: “Elizabeth R.”
It is believed that most of the important relics and artefacts inside were saved from the blaze.
Notre Dame is some 900 years old in parts, having been begun in 1160, and largely complete by 1260; it is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and has seen much history in its time, including the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor. The cathedral also suffered desecration during the French Revolution, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2019
12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually, making it the most visited monument in Paris.
Of course, The Queen watched Windsor Castle burn in 1992. The Duke of York was seen assisting with the removal of precious items from the Royal Collection.
The need to fund restoration work led to the opening of Buckingham Palace to visitors during the summer months. President Macron has already pledged to rebuild the historic landmark, with donations coming in to assist almost immediately.
The Prince of Wales said he and The Duchess of Cornwall were “utterly heartbroken” and described the loss of parts of the iconic building as a “shattering tragedy, the unbearable pain of which we all share”. The future King is a strong advocate for the protection and conservation of historic architecture.
Prince Charles told the French President in his letter that his experience of the fire at Windsor meant “our hearts go out to you and the people of France more than you can ever know.”
“My wife and I were utterly heartbroken to learn of the terrible fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral this evening and wanted to let you know immediately how much we are thinking of yourself and the French people at this most agonising of times, and of the emergency services who are so bravely tackling the blaze.
“I realise only too well what a truly special significance the cathedral holds at the heart of your nation, but also for us all outside France it represents one of the greatest architectural achievements of western civilisation.
“It is a treasure for all mankind and, as such, to witness its destruction in this most dreadful conflagration is a shattering tragedy, the unbearable pain of which we all share.”
He added: “Cher Monsieur le President, our hearts go out to you and the people of France more than you can ever know, especially in view of our experience with the devastating fire at Windsor Castle 27 years ago.”
In a mark of solidarity with the Parisian and French people, the bells at Westminster Abbey tolled at 4.43pm BST; this was the moment the fire began yesterday.