Overwhelmed mourners in tears at sight of Queen’s coffinon September 14, 2022 at 7:14 pm

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A father, who queued for 11 hours, says the dignity of it made hairs stand up on the back of his neck.

Roy, Serena and Teresa Lee

Seeing Queen Elizabeth II lying in state was “overwhelming”, one of the first mourners to enter Westminster Hall has said.

Teresa Lee said it gave her “such a feeling of pride”, while her husband Roy said it made the “hairs stand up on the back of your neck”.

Thousands of people are queuing to pay their respects to the late monarch.

Her coffin will remain in Westminster Hall until 06:30 BST on Monday – the day of her funeral.

Mrs Lee, from Grantham in Lincolnshire, said: “Entering the hall was overwhelming.

“It gave me such a feeling of pride. That she was the Queen of our country and she served us so amazingly. I felt proud to be British.”

Her husband said the whole experience had been “unbelievable” and “dignified”.

“The Queen has united people, friendships have been made. It’s a pity the world is not like this all the while,” he said.

Asked what was going through his mind as he stood beside the coffin, Mr Lee said he was “saying a little thank you”, while his wife said she had silently told the Queen: “You’ve done your job.”

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown placed on top, lays on the catafalque in Westminster Hall

Image source, PA Media

Surrounded by statuesque soldiers standing vigil in vibrant uniforms and with four candles burning beside it, the Queen’s coffin is lying in state on a raised platform in the centre of the hall.

The mood as the first mourners entered was sombre with some crossing themselves while others bowed or took off their hats to show respect.

Tears streaked the faces of many.

A near silent hum could be heard as people slowly walked through the 11th Century hall.

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Old friends Jane Ward and Clare Lynas, from Newbury, said they got lucky as a changing of the guard in the hall gave them an unexpected extra couple of minutes with the Queen.

“It was stunningly beautiful, very emotional and beautifully orchestrated,” said Clare, 61, a retired headmistress.

“I wanted to say a proper goodbye. She deserves that.”

The friends said time flew while they spent 12 hours queuing to pay their respects. The highlight came outside Lambeth Palace when the Archbishop of Canterbury made an appearance.

“He was fascinated by our wristbands,” said Jane, 62, a former lawyer. He joked that he hoped his robes and cross would get him access to the Queen, she added.

Jane Ward and Clare Lynas

“It’s overwhelming,” said Natalie Gladin, a 47-year-old mum from north Essex, whose tears were still falling.

“It’s like losing your own family. I lost my dad last year, and my mum,” she said.

With Violet, her 11-year-old, holding her hand tightly, she explained: “In the queue it was really friendly and quite jovial. The minute you get to the doors, it changes.

“It’s total silence and really, really sombre.”

She said she was prepared to queue for days but they set off at 03:30 BST and by 17:30 BST they were filing very slowly, one by one, through the hall.

Her daughters said they bowed their heads and curtsied when they reached the end of the coffin.

As she bowed her head, Ms Gladin said she wished the Queen well in the next life and to be reunited with those she has lost.

The Gladins

With thousands of people expected to want to be part of the historic moment, a queuing system has been set up, which currently stretches more than two miles along the south bank of the River Thames.

Fences have been set up all the way to Southwark Park, some seven miles away, in case the queue stretches that far.

The government has warned that people could end up queuing for up to 30 hours to witness history. The first people to enter the hall for the lying-in-state on Wednesday had been waiting overnight.

The government has published a live queue tracker for people to follow on YouTube – which shows the queue currently runs from Westminster past London Bridge.

The BBC is live streaming as people file past so that those unable to make it to London are able to pay their respects at home.

The Queen’s coffin was brought to Westminster Hall in a sombre procession from Buckingham Palace, followed by the King and other members of the Royal Family.

After a short service the first mourners were allowed in to pay their respects just after 17:00 BST on Wednesday.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lies on the catafalque in Westminster Hall watched on by guards and members of the Royal Family

Image source, PA Media

The near silence of the hall was occasionally broken as the officers standing vigil changed, with the precise tramp of boots echoing through the room.

While the mood in Westminster Hall was sombre, those who had queued overnight were in high spirits as they queued to pay their respects to the Queen.

By noon, many of those in the queue had become acquainted with their neighbours, with some posing for pictures with those they had met.

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The Queen’s lying-in-state will continue until 06:30 BST on Monday, the morning of her funeral.

Her coffin will be taken in a grand military procession from the Palace of Westminster to nearby Westminster Abbey for her state funeral.

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