The last person to see the Queen lying in state has bowed her head in a solemn sign of respect ahead of the funeral. After four days, 13 hours and 30 minutes Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray, descended the stairs in Westminster Hall towards the coffin, where, escorted by officials, she was filmed paying her respects. The queue stretched through London for almost a week, occupying such a large area that it was given its own weather forecast, and at its peak people were waiting in it for more than 24 hours to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s coffin.
As the sun rose over Westminster Hall on Monday morning, Ms Heerey described the “real privilege” of being the last person to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state.
Ms Heerey, who said goodbye to Her Majesty for the second time, said: “I was the last person to pay my respects to the Queen and it felt like a real privilege to do that.
“It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here.”
Mother and daughter Christine and Sarah Rogers were the final two people to be handed wristbands to join the queue on Sunday night.
Crowds of mourners behind them burst into applause as they were told they would be the last people allowed to enter Westminster Hall.
Sarah added: “It means a lot to come and pay our respects, because she’s been a constant in my life. To just go there and say thank you… it means a lot.”
The cut-off point for queueing was put in place by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) around 10.30pm on Sunday, stopping new people from joining the line in a bid to ensure funeral plans run to schedule.
Before that point, undeterred, a stream of people scrambled to join the queue up until the last minute, many wearing coats and jumpers, hats and scarves, and some wrapped in blankets.
Since Wednesday at 17.00pm, crowds have been flocking to London to pay tribute to the late monarch.
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When the Queen’s father, King George VI, died in 1952, about 300,000 people paid their respects. When Winston Churchill died in 1965, 321,360 people visited his coffin.
The most people to attend a British monarch lying in state was recorded in 1910 after the death of Edward VII, with half a million mourners travelling to Westminster Hall.
In 2002, about 200,000 people visited the coffin of the Queen Mother as she lay in state.
The phenomenon of the queue, as it’s become known, has attracted fascination and awe around Britain and across the world. The number of people to view the Queen’s lying in state is yet to be officially announced.
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