Thousands of mourners congregated at the gates of Buckingham Palace yesterday (September 8) following the news that QueenElizabeth II, the UK’s longest reigning monarch, had died aged 96.
It had been a wet and overcast day in London and in Scotland yesterday, but shortly after the news of the Queen’s death broke, the sun shone briefly in the evening.
The Queen’s death was announced around 6.30pm on Thursday 8 September, and over the course of the day mourners spotted bright rainbows forming in the sky.
Mourners have found different interpretations of the rainbows which appeared at the end of the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Where were rainbows spotted after the Queen’s death?
A rainbow appeared over Windsor Castle in Berkshire, the main residence of the Queen since 2011, as the Union flag over the building was lowered to half-mast to mark her passing.
The rainbow was visible for a few minutes over the historic castle, which dates back to the 11th century, before fading away.
Supporters of the Queen who had travelled to Buckingham Palace after her ill health had been announced spotted a double rainbow over the palace just minutes before the Queen’s death was announced.
Thousands of mourners travelled to Buckingham Palace to pay their respects and leave flowers on the day the Queen died.
Hundreds of people were still at the Palace at midnight and thousands more are expected to leave flowers in the coming days.
What does a double rainbow mean?
Rainbows hold many meanings in British and world cultures, but they are most often viewed as a symbol of hope.
Rainbows are formed when the sun comes out following a period of heavy rainfall, and so are taken as a sign that things will improve after a difficult period.
In the biblical story of Noah and the flood, God made a rainbow in the sky as a sign of a new covenant with Noah and a promise not to flood the Earth again.
Following the death of the Queen many mourners have interpreted the rainbows as a sign that although the country is in mourning, there is also hope for the future.
The symbol is particularly relevant for people of the UK as the country grapples with an unprecedented cost of living crisis and many people are fearful of the coming winter.
Some saw the raibow as the eye of God, looking over the symbolic home of the British monarchy, and the monarch is also the head of the Church of England.
Double rainbows also often occur following periods of heavy rain, with a second fainter rainbow forming when light is reflected in two directions off the water.
Although double rainbows are rarer than single rainbows, they are more common than people believe - because the second rainbow is often fainter they are harder to spot.
People from countries around the world who were in London yesterday braved the bad weather, wearing raincoats and holding umbrellas as they attended the stone steps leading up to the royal residence.
When mourners saw the double rainbow over Buckingham Palace yesterday, some believed that it was a sign that the Queen and Prince Philip, who passed away in April 2021, had been reunited.