After three years of uncertainty, political acrimony and fractured opinions across a nation that found itself divided as never before, Brexit finally arrives on Friday night.
At 11 p.m. — midnight in Brussels — Britain will say farewell to the European Union, officially departing from the bloc after 47 years of membership and setting off on a new solo journey. While the moment has been highly anticipated for the years since the country’s 2016 referendum, little will immediately change when the countdown is over.
The commemorations have so far been notably subdued. Even the official government celebrations — a victory lap for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had pledged to see through Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union “do or die” — were muted. British flags lined the square outside Parliament and The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace, and a light show was planned outside Mr. Johnson’s official residence in Downing Street, a side road that is closed to the public.
Elsewhere, those who supported remaining in the European Union staged protests and others wore mourning clothes to show their grief at the end of Britain’s membership.
Though little will be different for Britons waking up on Saturday morning — the beginning of an 11-month transition period while Brussels and London negotiate the terms of their new relationship — the moment is a hugely symbolic one.
Flags were hung along The Mall, the ceremonial avenue leading up to Buckingham Palace in London, as part of the government’s muted celebrations.
News crews from across the world descended on Parliament Square.
Brexit supporters in Parliament Square.
Across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, a postcard vendor displayed the English and British flags.
A view of the port of Dover, a crucial transit hub for goods and passengers moving between Britain and continental Europe.
Pro-European demonstrators gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
Gibraltar, the British territory at Spain’s southern tip, is likely to be a point of contention in the coming negotiations.
A pro-Brexit demonstration outside Downing Street.
A demonstration on Westminster Bridge, next to Parliament.
A child dressed as St. George, England’s patron saint, in Parliament Square.
Members of the protest group Border Communities Against Brexit gathered at the border between Ireland, which remains a European Union member nation, and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom.
A mural in Brussels near European Union buildings.
Jonathan Bullock, holding the flag, and Jake Pugh, Brexit Party members who represented Britain in the European Parliament, made a show of their departure from Brussels.
Grand Place, the ornate square in the heart of Brussels, was lit with the colors of the British flag Thursday evening.