Tens of thousands of mourners, some waiting through the night, queued for hours Thursday to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II on the first full day of her coffin lying in state.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who died a week ago aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, is at rest in Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s state funeral at neighbouring Westminster Abbey.
After lining up for two days, the first public mourners were allowed into the vast mediaeval hall late Wednesday afternoon, following the coffin’s ceremonial procession through the packed streets of central London from Buckingham Palace, AFP reports.
Since then, a steady stream of people has continued to file past the queen’s casket, with thousands waiting through the night for their chance to say farewell to the country’s figurehead.
Her casket, mounted on a platform, is draped in the Royal Standard flag and bearing the Imperial State Crown plus her ceremonial Orb and Sceptre, with tall, flickering candles standing at each corner.
“It was very beautiful, moving,” said Sarah Mellor, noting it was also very quiet inside the cavernous hall, the oldest part of Britain’s centuries-old parliament.
“There is the sense of history here,” added the visibly moved Mellor, who had queued for seven hours.
The sombre atmosphere was completed with guards in ceremonial uniform posted around the podium in a constant vigil.
One fainted overnight, in a sign of the toll standing vigil can take.