Flags flew at half mast at embassies across London as the diplomatic community united in solidarity with France against the terrorist atrocities in Paris that killed 129 people.
A steady flow of ambassadors, royalty and dignitaries filed through the Embassy doors in Knightsbridge while ordinary Londoners left a growing mountain of bouquets of flowers and messages of condolence on the doorstep.
Ambassadors took to Twitter to express their outrage and unity with France, using the hashtag #NousSommesUnis.
Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, whose own country Russia lost 224 nationals in a Daesh airline attack, offered immediate assistance to “investigate these terrible crimes”.
US Ambassador Matthew Barzun’s tweet signalled that a diplomatic and military response was in progress, tweeting “We stand together & resolute to fight to defeat Daesh”.
French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann said she had been “moved” by all the messages of support but struck a defiant note, saying the attacks were “like 9/11, an act of war”.
France stepped up its strikes against Daesh in Syria and invoked a never-before-used article of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty calling for EU partners to offer “aid and assistance by all means in their power”.
The appeal will strengthen Prime Minister David Cameron’s case to put a vote to Parliament on extending military action to Syria.
Prime Minister David Cameron signs the Book of Condolence
Speaking to the Commons, he said: “The case for doing so has only grown stronger after the Paris attacks. We cannot expect, we should not expect, others to carry the burdens and risks of protecting our country.”
The Prime Minister will have to win over sceptical backbench MPs, notably those in the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee which ruled out strikes without a “coherent international strategy”.
The Paris attacks and the Russian airline disaster have created the political will for international cooperation.
The outlines of a UN-led diplomatic resolution to the Syria civil war took shape at the Syria talks in Vienna, and signs of military ‘coordination’ between Russia, France and the US will go some way to meet the conditions set out by the FAC.
Above and below: Floral tributes and messages at the French Embassy