April 16, 2019 / 10:32 AM / 8 months ago

Queen Elizabeth deeply saddened by Notre Dame blaze, UK bells to toll

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Britain March 28, 2019. Matt Keeble/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has sent a message to French President Emmanuel Macron to say she was deeply saddened by the fire which engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday and that her prayers were with all of France, Buckingham Palace said.

Elizabeth’s oldest son Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, said he too was “utterly heartbroken” to learn of the fire.

In a mark of solidarity with France, Prime Minister Theresa May said the bells at Westminster Abbey would toll at 1643 GMT on Tuesday to mark the moment the fire began.

“Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral,” Elizabeth’s message said.

“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.”

Charles, who has expressed strong feelings about protecting traditional architecture, said in a message to Macron: “I realize 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 Civilization.”

He added: “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.”

Prime Minister May said she had told Macron that Britain stood ready to support France in any way it could with rebuilding.

“President Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral and I have conveyed to him that the UK will support this endeavor however we can,” she said in a statement.

Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison

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