People from all walks of life in Hong Kong remembered the late Queen Elizabeth during colonial times as the si tau po – a Cantonese term of endearment that translates as “the lady in charge”– as hundreds visited the British consulate on Friday to offer their condolences. Members of the public, some visibly distressed, laid floral tributes and formed patient queues outside the British diplomatic mission in Admiralty to sign a book of condolence which will be available until next Friday. An outpouring of sympathy also swept social media as people posted sentimental messages alongside pictures of the monarch’s two visits to Hong Kong in 1975 and 1986 in a reign that spanned more than seven decades. Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu joined a chorus of world leaders who mourned the death of the British royal. “On behalf of the people and [the Hong Kong government], it is with great sadness that I express our profound condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom … She was greatly respected, admired and praised by the British people,” Lee said on Friday. Buckingham Palace announced in the early hours of Friday, Hong Kong time, that the country’s longest-serving head of state had died, aged 96, peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The British consulate, which lowered the British flag to half-mast on Friday, will open to members of the public to pay tribute for six days. It also expressed deep sadness at the queen’s death. The special service will be available between 10am and 4pm from next Monday to Friday, with the condolence book available for visitors to pay tribute. Some of Queen Elizabeth’s notable meetings, from Gorbachev to Gaga Several people referred to the late British queen as si tau po , a colloquial term used by civil servants in colonial times, which later took on a wider connotation generally referring to proprietress. But the term also carries a sense of affinity and can-do spirit. “We will miss you forever, si tau po ,” one mourner wrote. Another penned: “Hong Kong has been having a difficult time on so many things. Your departure is another piece of sudden sad news that adds to the pain in 2022.” Born in 1926, the monarch began her reign in 1952 at the age of 25, following the death of her father King George VI. Britain ruled Hong Kong between 1841 and 1997. Queen Elizabeth visited the city twice during her reign – once in May 1975 and again in October 1986, two years after the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed. Senior barrister Anthony Neoh, who acted as her interpreter during her first trip when he was a district officer, remembered the queen never lost her patience despite the many people who tried to speak to her. “She was devoted to her duty and a role model for all of us, especially for the young people,” he said. During her first four-day visit with husband Prince Philip, she received an enthusiastic welcome from Gurkha pipers, flag-waving crowds and gun salutes, as described by the Post at the time. A picture featuring her on the front page was published in colour, then a first for the paper. One of the couple’s most notable visits was to Oi Man Estate, a public housing area in Ho Man Tin, which drew residents out of their homes to catch a glimpse of royalty. Neoh said that the mother of a family asked if her daughter could study in Britain and the queen asked her assistant to write it down. “She was very gracious,” he said. A vegetable store owner in the neighbourhood, now 86, still remembered the queen’s visit to Oi Man Estate almost 50 years ago. “The street was bustling with people. She walked past our store and looked at what vegetables we were selling,” said the shopkeeper, who identified himself as Mr Chan. “She looked elegant, young and beautiful. She was nice to us as well,” he said. The royal couple in 1975 also visited City Hall in Central, Morse Park in Lok Fu, Hung Hom railway station, the University of Hong Kong, the Kwai Chung container terminal, industrial areas in Tsuen Wan, Happy Valley racecourse, as well as the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, which left the city in June. The queen came to Hong Kong again in 1986 after a visit to China, two years after the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a key document that would guarantee the city’s way of life after the handover in 1997, was signed. Commemorative stamps and coins were issued to mark both occasions. Coin collector Cheng Po-hung, who has operated the Commonwealth Stamp and Coin Company in Sheung Wan for 30 years, said he kept the two coins collected from the queen’s visits. He won chances to buy the HK$1,000 coins after he asked all his family members to take part in a special draw to buy the keepsakes. Decades later, each is worth more than HK$8,000. The queen’s face was carried on all coins in Hong Kong until 1993, in preparation for the return of the city to Chinese rule. Her image was replaced by the Bauhinia flower, the city’s emblem. Cheng, who has also collected other royal-related coins, said he would “make sure I keep one of every type in my possession”. The queen’s royal insignia was embossed on some of the city’s oldest postboxes – painted in a distinctive green rather than the British red – until 2015, when Hongkong Post covered over the designs, which it said were inappropriate. The decision sparked an outcry by conservationists. But the monarch’s influence is still seen in various facets of Hong Kong society. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, one of the busiest public medical facilities in Hong Kong, is named after her. So is the Queen Elizabeth School, a secondary school in Mong Kok. The queen boarded a flight to travel to the Japanese capital Tokyo after the 1975 visit. She sent a goodbye message to the people of Hong Kong just after her flight took off. “I am sad to leave but I do so with confidence of a bright future for Hong Kong and her people,” the queen wrote.