Gordon Brown is expected to stand down as an MP and quit politics altogether after his dramatic resignation as Prime Minister on Tuesday night paved the way for the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.
Mr Brown is back home in Scotland with his wife Sarah and their two children and friends said that they expect him to concentrate on charity work.
The Labour leader said it had been "a privilege to serve" and wished his successor well. Mr Brown, his voice cracking with emotion, also said he was resigning immediately as Labour leader.
He then left Downing Street for Buckingham Palace holding hands with his wife Sarah and sons John and Fraser.
He said: "My constitutional duty is to ensure that a government can be formed after last week's general election. I have informed the Queen's private secretary that it is my intention to tender my resignation to the Queen."
Mr Brown said: "I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future. Only those who have held the office of prime minister can understand the full weight of its responsibilities and its great capacity for good."
He said he had "loved the job, not for its prestige, its titles and its ceremony, which I do not love at all." "No, I loved the job for its potential to make this country I love fairer, more tolerant, more green, more democratic, more prosperous, more just - truly a greater Britain," he said.
Following his trip to the Palace, Mr Brown visited Labour HQ, where he was greeted by cheers and applause. He announced that his deputy Harriet Harman was taking over as acting Labour leader until his successor is chosen.
In his emotional speech to party workers, Mr Brown said: "I wish more than I can possibly say that I could have mobilised that majority to carry the election, but I could not. And I have to accept, and indeed assert, the fault is mine and I will carry that alone. He added to rapturous applause: "I wish my successor in that role well and I will stand by Labour's new leader, whoever that may be, loyally and without equivocation, because one thing will not change: I am Labour and Labour I will always be."