"She was our rock" - Gibraltar mourns Queen Elizabeth

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has died at age 96

By Mariano Valladolid and Marcelo del Pozo

GIBRALTAR (Reuters) - Dozens of Gibraltar residents queued on Friday to sign a book of condolence after the death of Queen Elizabeth and leave flowers at the official residence of the governor of the British territory that is known as The Rock.

"I have written ... that she was very respected here in Gibraltar, that we'll be mourning her death and that we are the British Rock of Gibraltar but she was our rock and that's what kept us determined," said pensioner Simi Benyub Berherbits, 74.

Draped in a Union Flag decorated with a Platinum Jubilee picture of the queen, she likened her death to the loss of a close relative.

Many residents of Gibraltar, at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and which is officially recognised as British city, feel particularly close to Britain and the monarchy.

In 2002, 99% of voters there rejected the idea of Britain sharing sovereignty with Spain, which it borders and which ceded the outpost to Britain in 1713 after a war but has long called for it to be returned.

Flags flew at half-mast and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment fired a gun salute of 96 rounds honouring the monarch, one for every year of her life.

A message written on the wrapping of a bouquet of flowers left by The Convent residence read simply: "To my Queen. Thank you."

"This is the only queen I have even known, the only monarch I have known as my queen," said another Gibraltar resident Edwin Anthony Lopez, describing Gibraltarians as "very close to the crown".

"The reality is that I feel very sad, I think the majority of people of Gibraltar if not all feel the same," he said.

Spain has insisted on a bilateral agreement with Britain to jointly rule Gibraltar, but London wants Gibraltar to be included in such discussions.

(Writing by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Alison Williams)