Poignant photographs of Queen Elizabeth II dominated the front pages of Britain's grieving newspapers on Friday, charting her journey from coronation to matriarch of the nation.

A picture of the 27-year-old Elizabeth taken at her 1953 coronation, full of regal splendour clasping the Sovereign's Orb and Sceptre in the vaulted walls of Westminster Abbey, covered the front pages of The Times, Guardian, Daily Star and Independent.

The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and Daily Mirror instead chose images of the white-haired monarch as she neared the end of her record-breaking 70-year-reign.

The Telegraph carried a quote made by the queen for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. "Grief is the price we pay for love," it said.

Most tabloids marked the occasion with subdued black-and-white front pages, although the Sun splashed its header in royal purple, above the headline "We loved you Ma'am."

"Rest in peace, Ma'am. The Sun and our readers loved you. We are proud you were our Queen," it added.

The Daily Express carried the headline "Our Beloved Queen is Dead", while the Daily Mirror simply wrote "Thank you".

"Our hearts are broken", said the Daily Mail headline.

"How to find the words? Our grief is a hundred different emotions, all of them hard to grasp," said its front-page splash.

"As God Save the Queen played on the radio and TV, as we heard that our beloved monarch had died, a nation's heart broke," it added.

The story unsurprisingly filled the inside pages of the souvenir edition papers, with most dedicating at least 20 pages to the seismic events.

"A light has gone out on our lives. The day Britain and much of the world dreaded is upon us. She is gone," said The Sun's editorial.

"The mother of our nation. The most famous, most loved, most respected woman on Earth. Britain's backbone.

"It is, quite simply, hard to think of British life without her presence," it added. "The new world will seem strange."

In its obituary, The Times described Elizabeth as "the woman who saved the monarchy".

"It is thanks to her dedication and seriousness of purpose that an institution that has at times seemed outdated and out of keeping with the values of contemporary society still has a relevance and popularity today."

Inside the left-wing Guardian, columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote that her death heralded the start of "a new future".

"The one element in our collective life that was consistently, reliably the same... has gone."

The Daily Telegraph meanwhile paid tribute to Elizabeth's "lifetime of service".

"She was more than just a distant, matriarchal symbol of nationhood; she was our constant companion and guide, reassuringly composed even in the most turbulent of times.

"The Second Age of Elizabeth is at an end. Long live King Charles III," it said.