Seconds after her emotional address to the nation in Downing Street yesterday morning, the Prime Minister's first words to her staff were: 'I'm sorry.'
When Theresa May headed out of the door of Number 10 yesterday to acknowledge that her political career, like so many others, had ended in failure, she had been determined to keep her emotions in check.
But her voice started to weaken as she told of her pride at having been Britain's 'second female Prime Minister', and there was no disguising the tears as she spoke of her 'enduring gratitude' for the chance to 'serve the country I love'.
It was hardly surprising given the momentous circumstances and the inevitable frustration at having to relinquish power before achieving her ambition of leading Britain out of the EU.
After Prime Minister Theresa May's emotional address to the nation in Downing Street Friday morning, her first words to her staff were: 'I'm sorry'
But she was annoyed with herself. Indeed, she and her aides have been irritated by 'sexist and inaccurate' accounts in recent days claiming she has wept at meetings about her future.
As she came back in through the famous black door and tried to compose herself, she greeted applauding staff with the words: 'I'm sorry.'
One close aide replied with feeling: 'It's not you who should be apologising, Prime Minister.'
In her speech yesterday Mrs May said she was leaving 'with no ill will'. But allies are bitter at the way in which Eurosceptic MPs and ministers angling for her job have conspired to bring her down – apparently unconcerned about the potential damage to the party and the prospects for delivering Brexit.
I hope the people who had a hand in it are feeling guilty,' said one. 'They have made a huge miscalculation.'
Mrs May was then joined by her devoted husband Philip, who had watched her valedictory speech from outside the door of No11, keeping out of camera shot.
As she came back in through the famous black door and tried to compose herself, she greeted applauding staff with the words: 'I'm sorry.' One close aide replied with feeling: 'It's not you who should be apologising, Prime Minister'
The couple headed for Mrs May's modest private office where she spent a few minutes responding to messages from friends and world leaders.
Then, the Prime Minister went upstairs to Downing Street's famous Pillared Room to address her loyal team of 40 or so special advisers, most of whom will leave No10 with her in July.
This time it was her audience's turn to shed a tear or two as she paid tribute to her husband and her chief-of-staff Gavin Barwell and spoke about what the job had meant to her.
'It was a bit emotional but it was a nice moment,' said one onlooker. 'Away from the glare of the cameras she spoke about just how much it had meant to her.
'It was typical of her that, on an enormously difficult day for her, she took the time to come and talk to us and give a speech that left everyone in the room coming away feeling a bit better.'