Amid turmoil, Queen Elizabeth says Britain sombre but steadfast


Saturday marks Queen Elizabeth II's official birthday - her actual 91st birthday was April 21 - but the reigning monarch said it's hard to be in a celebratory mood in light of recent terror attacks in London and Manchester. Her visit followed protests over the deadly fire.

The Queen used her official birthday to award the police officer killed in March's Westminster attack with a posthumous honour.

After the British Army's military display for the Horse Guards Parade on Saturday, the monarch joined family members - including her son Prince Charles, Charles' son Prince William, William's wife Kate Middleton and their children George and Charlotte - on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display.

A total of 58 people who were dead or missing, presumed dead in the devastating fire, police said on Saturday.

Queen Elizabeth II marked her official birthday Saturday by saying Britain remains "resolute in the face of adversity" after the horrendous fire and recent extremist attacks in London and Manchester.

"It was murder", said the front page of The Sun; "May takes cover" said The Times; "Inferno: the anger erupts", said the Daily Mail. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.

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For two days, May's government has struggled to respond to the fire at Grenfell Tower, opened four decades ago as state-subsidised housing.

Queen Elizabeth II, 91, and her grandson, 34, had made an emotional visit together on Friday to see the survivors, meet with victims' families and rescue workers who were affected by the inferno, which engulfed the Grenfell Tower in London. Their search for missing residents has been stalled because of safety concerns over the tower's condition. She has also ordered 5 million pounds (6.4 million USA dollars) to be given to a relief fund to help victims of the fire.

Asked repeatedly whether she had misread the public mood, May did not answer directly but said the focus was on providing support to the victims. "Actually, we want the response to be as fast as possible".

May chaired a government task force on the disaster at 10 Downing Street early Saturday before meeting a delegation of residents, victims, volunteers and community leaders at her office.

That is why I ordered a public inquiry, with the costs for providing victims with legal representation met by government.

May's most senior cabinet minister, Damian Green, went onto national radio Saturday to defend the prime minister.