Tens of thousands pay final respects to Queen Elizabeth II

Kofi Frimpong walked along the South Bank of the Thames with a short gesture tied to the back of his fluorescent orange jacket to commemorate the end of an already mile-long line of mourners waiting to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

“As of now, we are 1,066 people. I hope it’s a long line,” he said, glancing down the road to Lambeth Bridge.

Was please check quickly. Less than 20 minutes later, the waiting list had tripled to 3,145 people, with Frimpong repeatedly updating the numbers in his notebook as additional mourners were placed at the back of the rapidly lengthening line.

Hundreds of thousands of fans of the late monarch are expected to wait hours, likely over the next few days, for their chance to present her coffin, which began lying in the state in both houses of parliament on Wednesday. Frimpong was one of the guards available to try to keep order for a queue that could stretch up to five miles, as part of a round-the-clock operation until the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

The line began forming before dawn on Wednesday. Nearby, others camped overnight in the mall outside Buckingham Palace to watch the somber casket procession from the monarch’s official residence in London to Parliament’s Westminster Hall during the state’s lying-in period.

By morning, despite London’s fickle weather, throngs of people–students, pensioners, residents of London and towers–had swarmed the closed lanes near the Palace and the Houses of Parliament. One of them was Shannon Drinkwater, an e-commerce entrepreneur who had traveled from New York for the occasion and was now queuing to enter Westminster Hall with her husband, Jay, and their 10-year-old son, also called Jay (“It’s Jay Drinkwater III,” she said with a smile. “.

“I am very fond of strong women, and they have been an inspiration my whole life, since I was four,” Drinkwater said of the Queen. “You led me, and I’m not even from this country.”

Standing next to her were Michaela Ohnlein, 55, and Tish Cochran, 62, who carried a simple bouquet of red roses. Hearing Drinkwater’s words, Cochrane nodded and added, “For a 96-year-old still working two days before her death – that’s an inspiration.”

For O’Henlein, who is originally from Hamburg, Germany but now lives in London and holds British citizenship, celebrating the Queen’s death was another way to say goodbye to her grandmother.

“I was born the same year as my grandmother. And the Queen passed away about a year after her death, so she always reminded me of her.” But it was also a way to honor a character who was “fixed” in her life.

The procession to deliver the coffin to Westminster Hall began at 2:22pm, with the sounds of a funeral procession given by Scots Guards, Grenadiers and Big Ben to provide an escort for the Queen’s departure from Buckingham Palace for the last time.

The Queen’s four children were walking a short distance behind the coffin: the new King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. They were followed by Charles’s two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Only Andrew and Harry were in full uniform but instead in suits, as they do not work in the royal family.

Several roads near the motorcade route were closed, as hundreds of police officers and other safety personnel moved crowds along the lanes to prevent jams.

The procession marched along the flag-lined mall and former London landmarks, including Whitehall’s government district, the clock tower bearing Big Ben (the name of its giant bell) and a statue of Winston Churchill, the Queen’s first prime minister. . People raised their phones, many of them hoisting themselves on a railing, to record the cart passing.

The procession reached the gates of Westminster Hall exactly 38 minutes later, at the top of the hour, and the coffin was placed on a platform or platform. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and other members of the clergy rendered a service.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, and believe in me. In my father’s house there are many palaces: if not, I would have told you,” Welby read from the Gospel of John.

At the conclusion of the service, the royal guard’s vigil began, which heralded the start of the state’s lying-in period at 5 p.m. Authorities say it will run until 6:30 a.m. on Monday and could entail a whopping 30-hour waiting time. For those wishing to enter Westminster Hall. The line can be up to 10 miles long.

Strict rules for viewing the coffin are in effect. Comforters can only bring one small bag with a single opening or zip. Phones must be silent and cannot be used to take pictures. Flowers and other things greeting prohibited.

The restrictions and long waits did not bother Alan Clarke and his wife Angela, both 69, who flew to London from the northern English city of Manchester that morning. Although their train had arrived at the station only an hour earlier, they joined the queue as quickly as they could with their luggage in towing.

“We loved the Queen. “She’s always been in our lives,” said Alan Clarke, adding that he was born in June 1953 – the same month the Queen was crowned.

The couple were on a tour of Buckingham Palace on Thursday when news came of the king’s death. Angela Clark said it was an emotional moment.

“She was the same age as our parents, and they’re all gone,” she said, her eyes glimmering for a moment.

The couple came prepared with a basket of supplies including chicken, bread rolls and other items from a Marks & Spencer supermarket.

“We also attended the Queen Mother’s Lying Ceremony,” said Alan Clark, in the voice of a veteran, referring to the late King’s mother’s death in 2002. he is.”

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