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

“My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the cathedral and all of France at this difficult time.”

Their eldest son Prince Charles, heir to the throne, said he was “utterly heartbroken” by the blaze and sent his thoughts to the French people and the emergency services.

Charles is a passionate advocate on architecture, religion and heritage.

In a message to Macron, he said: “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.”

In his message, Charles mentioned the 1992 blaze at Windsor Castle.

Dating back to the 11th century, the castle suffered extensive damage and the restoration took five years.

“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 Prince of Wales said.

“We send you our most profound sympathy, however inadequate that may be.”

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