With sunlight filtering through the stained-glass windows of Westminster Hall, I entered the iconic site that served as the backdrop to some of the world’s most historic events to pay my respects to Britain’s longest-reigning.
Despite the noisy crowds outside this line on the streets of London, delaying waiting times Exceeding the record-breaking 14-hour markYou can hear a pin falling inside.
Most of the mourners who paid their respects were dressed in black, and many took the opportunity during their three-minute visit to bow to the Queen’s coffin – a gesture of respect passed down for generations.
Other visitors proudly wore their military honors.
Although I didn’t consider myself much of a royal, I couldn’t deny the feeling of gratitude and affection the Queen’s Coffin aroused in me.
Seeing a place that has witnessed many momentous events over the centuries – including the case of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965, Nelson Mandela’s speech in 1996, and the lie of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 2002 – the hall was a poignant reminder of the history that cemented Britain’s legacy .
After watching the crowd make their way from the south-facing entrance, past the ark, and then to the north-facing exit, the only thing that struck me was the overwhelming sense of emotion.
“When I saw him [the Queen’s coffin]Sharon Martin told The Post. “I still can’t believe our precious ruler is no longer with us.”
Martin was far from the only one who was moved to tears. There are four dedicated hosts in each corner of the hall distributing napkins to stunned mourners, with supplies running out every three minutes or so.
But the 53-year-old King, who hails from Essex in England, was one of the lucky few who got to watch the changing of guards around Her Majesty’s coffin.
“I felt so lucky to see that happen. I love it about us Brits, we stick to tradition. It exists for a reason and we have to continue to respect it. Simple as.”
Veteran Keith Walsh, who waited less than 10 hours to see Her Majesty’s coffin, said he felt a deep sense of honor awaiting the better part of Friday.
“I came here with my Northern Ireland medal,” Walsh, 57, told The Post. “I served in the army for five years and spent two years in Northern Ireland in the 1980s.”
“For veterans, first of all, we knew her as the president. She was our president — the commander in chief. So there’s more than just a link to citizenship,” Walsh said.
“It is the service we have given her, we have taken an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, her heirs, and her successors, and for most veterans, that oath will be in place until the day you die. It is more than respect – there is that bond we gave her.”
Her Majesty’s coffin was brought to Westminster Hall on Wednesday, where the procession was led by her eldest son, King Charles III.
Built over 900 years ago, the historic William II building was thought to be the largest hall in Europe at the time.
The Master opened its doors to the general public on Wednesday and will remain open 24 hours a day before closing at 6:30 a.m. on September 19 – Her Majesty’s State Funeral Day.
Every day since the lines began, royal fans have ignored warnings of endless waiting times As they patiently approach Westminster Hall in a line that creeps around the center of the capital.
“I’ll wait as long as you need it – I’m not going anywhere,” said Sarah Slater, 67, who hails from Canterbury, England.
“I made a day out of it. I knew what I was doing and am totally happy with it. The wait was really hard and I have another three hours to go. But guess what? I’ll wait and wait and wait. That’s the least I can do.”
For many, the opportunity to spend minutes with the coffin means hours of discomfort in the freezing temperatures and rain. Hundreds of mourners with pain or other medical problems from waiting times have sought first responders.
“We’ve been very busy today,” a St John ambulance doctor told The Post on Friday. “I think a lot of people have experienced extreme discomfort and aches and pains from staying in the waiting list for so long. We’ve had quite a few people faint and actually fainted today as well.”
But despite the harrowing lines, everyone I spoke to said they would do so again for the opportunity to pay their respects to the late Queen.
“The Queen was a very strong character, she proved to me as a little girl that anything and everything is possible,” Cam Kaur, 37, told The Post.
“She was given such a huge responsibility at an incredibly young age. But we have never heard her moan, nor have we seen her in any distress. But she still does it all with such a thing,” added Kaur, who waited eight hours in line to see Her Majesty’s coffin. Elegance and grace.
She was a real inspiration. There will never be another queen in my life, but I feel fortunate to know, for 37 years of my life, that she was mine.”