London mourners brave long wait for ‘seconds’ with queen

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown and pulled by a Gun Carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, is pictured during a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, in London on September 14, 2022. (Photos: AFP)
LONDON — Braving chilly winds and a rainy night, mourners gathered in London before dawn on Wednesday, ready to endure hours of discomfort for a chance to view Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin lying in state.اضافة اعلان

By around 8:30am (0730 GMT), hundreds were patiently waiting in line opposite the Palace of Westminster, where the late monarch’s coffin will go on public display from 5pm.

The line was long but not enormous and watched over by security personnel in high-vis vests.

Some people were swathed in blankets while others slept in chairs or curled up beside the parapet of the River Thames embankment.

Many warmed themselves with cups of tea and brought camping chairs, umbrellas, and takeaway snacks and coffees to make the wait more palatable.

Crowds gather along The Mall in central London on September 14, 2022, ahead of the ceremonial procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. 

“We didn’t sleep at all,” said reitree Rob Paige, 65, who came with his 67-year-old wife, Maureen.

“It was a bit of a damp night,” she added with typical British understatement.

“After 1am it was quiet, we walked. ... There was a drizzle,” said Rob.

“A lot more people arrived around 5am this morning.”

‘Spiritual purity’
People in line chatted good-humoredly with each other and with the police officers stationed there.

Some stepped away to buy rounds of coffees and lent out sleeping bags.

“Such royal events are always like this: terrible weather but great fun!” said Rob.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t see (the 2002 funeral of) the Queen Mother, but this is the big one that we couldn’t miss,” said Maureen.

“I will definitely curtsy to pay my respects.”

Elsewhere in the line, mourner Brian Flatman recalled missing another key moment in royal history: the queen’s 1953 coronation.

“I was 16, we got there before midnight — Hyde Park Corner, superb position — but very quickly I became suddenly ill and had to crawl all the way to South London where I live,” he remembered.

This time the pensioner in a flat cap was determined not to miss out and had stayed overnight.

Walking past the queen’s coffin, he expects, will be a solemn “moment of timelessness”.

“There will be me and the queen’s remains in front of me. I think it will be an experience of immense profundity and spiritual purity,” he said.

‘Sense of loss’
June Allen-Westbrook, a 78-year-old wheelchair user, said she had not hesitated to turn up at 5am.

Police officers patrol along the Mall ahead of a procession of the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster in London on September 14, 2022.

“I will probably shed a tear,” she conceded.

Her friend, 67-year-old Janice Cook, added: “She’s been my queen for my entire life and more. It’s an honor to be here.”

Filing past the coffin will be “more personal and intimate” than watching the royal procession earlier that afternoon, said Delilah Emerson, a 26-year-old translator from Oxford.

“We are still processing the shock and sense of loss,” she said.

The government has planned for queues to stretch as far as 8km from the UK parliament to Southwark Park.

Those waiting played down the efforts they had made to come as minor compared to the achievements of the queen over her long life.

“It’s one of these things you have to be part of,” says Sam Gibbons, a 33-year-old personal trainer wearing a Union Jack jacket.

“Even though it’s going to be a few seconds, it’s just important.”

He said he came along as a way of “giving back that tiny minuscule thank you for what she did”.

Read more Trending
Jordan News