THE Queen led tributes to Pope John Paul II as she expressed her deep sorrow at his death.

Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen has conveyed to the Holy See her deep sorrow on receiving the news of the death of his holiness Pope John Paul II.

"Her majesty remembers the untiring efforts of Pope John Paul II in promoting peace and goodwill throughout the world.

"The Queen also remembers well the work of Pope John Paul II for Christian unity, including closer ties between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches and, in particular, his Holiness's visit to Britain in 1982 - the first ever papal visit."

The Prince of Wales spoke of his "fond and special memories" of the Pope, who he met in Rome and Britain in the 1980s.

In a message issued through Clarence House, he said: "It is with the deepest sorrow that I have learnt of the death of his Holiness Pope John Paul II.

"He will be long remembered for his tireless efforts to promote world peace and for his great warmth of personality.

"I have such fond and special memories of meeting his Holiness in Rome in 1985, and in the United Kingdom in 1982. His death is a great loss."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: "Pope John Paul was a leader of manifest holiness and a faithful and prayerful friend of the Anglican Church.

"There will be time in the days ahead for the proper tributes to be paid. For now we remember his life and ministry with thankfulness and hold the church that he led in our thoughts and prayers."

Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks said the Pope's pilgrimage to the Western Wall in Jerusalem was "one of the great healing moments of our time".

The Muslim Council of Britain described the Pope as a man of "extraordinary faith, courage and compassion".

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of Scotland's 750,000 Catholics, said a great man had left the world's stage, while Archbishop Sean Brady, Primate of all Ireland, described the pontiff as both a gentle teacher and courageous leader.

Abdur Rashid Siddiqui, vice-chairman of the Islamic Foundation, UK, said: "This extraordinary leader of the Roman Catholic Church will be remembered for his unique and impeccable credentials as a champion of the cause of suffering peoples of the world and uncompromising refusal to neither bow to the whims of our time nor to those who wield power in today's world.

"Above all he personified the triumph of the human spirit.

"I wish the Catholic church courage and solace at this, their hour of sadness."