With a brief pennant strapped to the again of his fluorescent orange vest, Kofi Frimpong walked alongside the south financial institution of the River Thames to mark the tip of the already mile-long queue of mourners ready to pay their final respects to Queen Elizabeth II.
“As of now we’re at 1,066 people. I can’t predict how long it will be,” he mentioned, glancing down the trail that stretched to Lambeth Bridge. “Hopefully it will be a long line.”
It was a hope rapidly fulfilled. Lower than 20 minutes later, the queue tripled to three,145 folks, with Frimpong repeatedly updating the figures in his notepad as further mourners have been corralled to the again of the quickly lengthening line.
Lots of of 1000’s of the late monarch’s admirers are anticipated to attend probably many hours over the subsequent few days for his or her probability to file previous her coffin, which started mendacity in state on the Homes of Parliament on Wednesday. Frimpong was one of many marshals available to attempt to preserve order for a queue that might stretch so long as 5 miles, a part of a round the clock operation till the queen’s funeral Monday.
The road started forming effectively earlier than dawn Wednesday. Close by, others had camped out in a single day on the Mall outdoors Buckingham Palace to observe the casket’s somber procession from the monarch’s official London residence to Parliament’s Westminster Corridor for the lying-in-state interval.
By morning, regardless of London’s fickle climate, swarms of individuals — college students, pensioners, Londoners, out-of-towners — thronged the cordoned-off walkways close to the palace and the Homes of Parliament. Considered one of them was Shannon Drinkwater, an e-commerce businesswoman who had traveled from New York for the event and was now standing in line to enter Westminster Corridor along with her husband, Man, and her 10-year-old son, additionally named Man (“He’s Guy Drinkwater the Third,” she mentioned with a smile).
“I’m very enamored with powerful women, and she’s been an inspiration my entire life, since I was 4 years old,” Drinkwater mentioned of the queen. “She led me, and I’m not even from this country.”
Standing beside her have been Michaela Ohenlen, 55, and Tish Cochrane, 62, who carried a easy bouquet of purple roses. Listening to Drinkwater’s phrases, Cochrane nodded and added: “For someone of 96 to still be working two days before her death — it’s an inspiration.”
For Ohenlen, who’s initially from Hamburg, Germany, however now lives in London and has British citizenship, marking the queen’s dying was one other method to bid farewell to her personal grandmother.
“She was born the same year as my grandmother. And the queen passed away almost a year after she had, so she always reminded me of her,” she mentioned. But it surely was additionally a method to honor a determine who had been a “constant” in her life.
The procession delivering the coffin to Westminster Corridor started at precisely 2:22 p.m., with the sounds of a funeral march performed by the bands of the Scots Guards and Grenadiers and Large Ben’s tolls offering accompaniment to the queen’s departure from Buckingham Palace for the final time.
Strolling a brief distance behind the coffin have been the queen’s 4 kids: the brand new King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, adopted. Solely Andrew and Harry weren’t in full army costume uniform however as a substitute in fits, since they don’t seem to be working royals.
Most of the roads close to the procession route have been blocked off, with lots of of cops and different security personnel shifting crowds alongside walkways to forestall bottlenecks.
The procession went alongside the flag-lined Mall and previous London landmarks, together with the Whitehall authorities quarter, the clock tower that holds Large Ben (the title of its big bell) and a statue of Winston Churchill, the primary prime minister of the queen’s reign. Folks, lots of them hoisting themselves up on railings, lifted their telephones to document the carriage’s passing.
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The cortege arrived at Westminster Corridor’s gates exactly 38 minutes later, on the prime of the hour, and the coffin was positioned on a catafalque, or stand. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and different members of the clergy carried out a service.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you,” Welby learn from the Gospel of John.
On the conclusion of the service started the royal guards’ vigil, which ushered within the begin of the lying-in-state interval at 5 p.m. Authorities say it would proceed till 6:30 a.m. Monday and will entail a gargantuan 30-hour ready time for these wishing to enter Westminster Corridor. The road might develop to 10 miles lengthy.
Strict guidelines for the viewing of the coffin are in pressure. Mourners can carry just one small bag with a single opening or zip. Telephones should be placed on silent and can’t be used for images. Flowers and different tribute gadgets are prohibited.
The restrictions and the lengthy wait didn’t faze Alan Clark and his spouse, Angela, each 69, who traveled all the way down to London from the northern English metropolis of Manchester that morning. Although their practice had rolled into the station solely an hour earlier than, they joined the queue as quickly as they might with their baggage in tow.
“We loved the queen. She’s always been in our life,” Alan Clark mentioned, including that he had been born in June 1953 — the identical month the queen was topped.
The couple have been on a tour of Buckingham Palace on Thursday when information got here of the monarch’s dying. It was an emotional second, Angela Clark mentioned.
“She was the same age as our parents, and they’ve all gone,” she mentioned, her eyes glistening for a second.
The couple got here ready with a hamper of provides together with rooster, bread rolls and different gadgets from a Marks & Spencer grocery store.
“We also attended the lying-in-state for the Queen Mother,” Alan Clark mentioned with the air of a educated veteran, referring to the dying of the late monarch’s mom in 2002. “It took us 12 hours, so we know how it is.”