After the massive fire that roared through Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral, the world has responded with messages of support and personal memories of the 856-year-old architectural and historical icon.
An official announcement came from the Queen’s office, addressed to the president of France, Emmanuel Macron. It read:
“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. Elizabeth R.” (The R stands for regina, which means “queen.”)
Prince Charles offered a separate heartfelt sentiment, saying, “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 agonizing of times, and of the emergency services who are so bravely tackling the blaze.”
The note continues, “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. 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.”
Charles ended with a reference to the 1992 fire that damaged Windsor Castle: “Cher Monsieur le Président, 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 twenty-seven years ago. We send you our most profound sympathy, however inadequate that may be.” He signed off in French with très cordialement à vous (very sincerely yours).
Prince Charles’s response, in particular, was surprisingly personal and emotional—not something we usually see from the royal family as a whole. And according to The New York Times, the architects who restored Windsor Castle after its fire have hope, saying that “we shall see Notre-Dame magnificent again.”