Sight Magazine – The Queen’s Queue: People line up for 16 hours to see the coffin

London, UK

People flocked to central London to join a queue outside the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday, undeterred by a government warning to stay home to avoid queuing for hours to see the late monarch lying in state.

Tens of thousands of people have already filed past the coffin in a steady and solemn stream, queuing for hours in the dark and cold to pay their respects to Britain’s longest-serving monarch – a testament to the affection in which she was detained.

People line up near the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II after her death, in London, Britain, September 17. PHOTO: Reuters/John Sibley

By mid-morning, the Department for Culture said the waiting time was 4 p.m. to reach Westminster Hall to take part.

Earlier, the ministry said it would suspend access to the queue if demand got too high, adding at 1am (0000 GMT): “Please don’t travel”.

New friendships, acts of kindness, and the struggles of waiting in line for hours, sometimes overnight, have come to define what is simply known as “the queue.”

Filmmaker Matthew West described how a serviceman was offered the chance to go to the front lines but declined. “That was the high point. The low point was when we stood still for two hours and I lost the will to live.”

The Queen’s death on September 8 at her summer estate in the Scottish Highlands sparked an outpouring of emotion across the country and 10 days of choreographed events.

After resting in the Scottish capital for 24 hours, the coffin was transported to south London, where tens of thousands of people crowded onto a normally busy road in the pouring rain to watch the flag-draped coffin lead at Buckingham Palace.

On Friday evening, King Charles joined his three siblings – Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward in a silent vigil at the coffin while their eight children, including William and Harry, will form their own ceremonial guard later on Saturday.

Like many, Sarah Boniface, a 60-year-old estate agent, was in tears and emotional as she left Westminster Hall on Friday evening after being up for 14 hours after watching the new king hold a vigil as she walked past the coffin.

“It’s worth every minute. Every minute,” she said, visibly fighting back tears. “I am so lucky to have paid homage to the Queen and to have seen our new King.”

UK London Westminster Hall Changing of the Guard

Changing of the guard at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, London, Britain, September 17. PHOTO: Peter Byrne/Pool via Reuters.

Indebted to the Queen
For pensioner Hasmukh Vara, 62, his decision to stand for 13 hours to observe the lie in state reflected his desire to say thank you to the late monarch – and to Britain – after moving to the country from Kenya in the 1970s.

Emerging from the vast, brightly lit room into the cool Friday night darkness by the Thames, he described himself as feeling “very, very high”.

“We came as refugees to this country,” he told Reuters. “For all my life, I am indebted to her because she gave us a home. It’s something we can never, ever forget. It’s very important to me and my family.”

The Queen’s children described being devastated by the reaction to their mother’s death.

Monday’s state funeral, attended by nearly 100 presidents and heads of government, including those of the United States, France, Australia, Japan, Jamaica and Canada, is likely to be one of the most great ceremonies ever held in Britain.

On Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern walked past the coffin – one of the first leaders to arrive. The Premier of the Canadian province of Alberta, Jason Kenney, described the rally in central London as “this huge and diverse gathering of people from all over the world”.

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On Saturday, King Charles will meet the prime ministers of the 14 other countries where he is head of state. He will also meet with emergency service workers involved in funeral arrangements.

Later, the focus will be on young members of the royal family and their vigil.

Heir to the throne William and his brother Harry, who split up in recent years after Harry moved to the US, will both stand guard at the coffin in military uniform.

Harry has served two tours of duty with the British Army in Afghanistan, but so far has appeared in morning processions in costume after losing his honorary military titles when he stepped down from public royal duties .

The wake will be held at the oak coffin, which stands on a purple-clad catafalque, draped with the Royal Standard and with the jeweled Imperial State Crown placed on top.

The two brothers will be joined by their cousins ​​- Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, children of Princess Anne, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, children of Prince Andrew, and Louise and James, children of Prince Edward.

Police say a man was arrested following a disturbance near the coffin on Friday night, being held for an offense under the Public Order Act.

– Additional reporting by SACHIN RAVIKUMAR

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