The Queen has expressed her deep sadness and sent a message of support to the people of France in the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.
The monarch, whose own beloved Windsor Castle was ravaged by a devastating blaze in 1992, said her thoughts and prayers were were with those who worship at the landmark and “all of France at this difficult time”.
The Queen, 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.”
The Prince of Wales said he and the Duchess of Cornwall were “utterly heartbroken” and described the events as a “shattering tragedy, the unbearable pain of which we all share”.
Charles told Mr Macron that the experience of the fire at Windsor meant “our hearts go out to you and the people of France more than you can ever know.”
In an emotional message to the president, the prince, a passionate supporter of heritage restoration, wrote: “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.”
The huge blaze that struck Windsor Castle damaged more than 100 rooms including the vast medieval St George’s Hall, and the catastrophic events in Paris will have brought back memories of this traumatic event for the Queen, Charles and other members of the royal family.
Mr Macron has vowed to rebuild the historic landmark – and fundraising has already begun.
Windsor Castle was restored to its former glory over five years in what was described as the greatest historic building project undertaken in the UK in the 20th century.
The Queen would have seen the Notre Dame Cathedral on her state visit to Paris in 2014, when she toured the flower market Marche aux Fleurs, just a few steps away from the medieval monument.
The Windsor blaze was sparked by a workman’s spotlight which accidentally set a curtain alight in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel on Friday November 20 1992.
It destroyed 115 rooms, including nine state rooms, and the roof of St George’s Hall collapsed.
The distraught monarch visited on the day of the fire with the Duke of York, and was also pictured the day after in her raincoat and boots grimly surveying the ruins of her much-loved home.
Her son Andrew revealed at the time: “Her Majesty is absolutely devastated.
“She is inside the building, helping to take stuff out – works of art and other things – as a precaution.”
The restoration of the Gothic castle – the family home of kings and queens for almost 1,000 years – was finished in 1997.