Britain weeps for its Queen: Mourners show raw emotion as they pay their final respects to Elizabeth II after queueing for hours to pass her coffin
- Mourners have paid emotional tributes to the Queen after spending up to 24 hours waiting to see her
- Her Majesty Elizabeth II is lying-in-state at Westminster Hall until Monday, the day of her state funeral
- England football legend David Beckham joined mourners in queueing overnight yesterday
- The BBC introduced a specific weather forecast for the queue- revealing it was around 7C this morning
- Last night King Charles III and his siblings held an emotional vigil at their late mother’s coffin
- The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage
Thousands of mourners have been overcome with emotion as they bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II as she lies in state in Westminster Hall.
Vast numbers of people have been queuing since the Queen was moved from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday, with the government warning it could take them 24 hours to get to the front.
Tearful tributes have been paid at the late monarch’s lying-in-state as the British public thank the Queen for her 70 years of service on the throne.
Many consoled each other as raw emotion was on display following the Queen’s death at the age of 96 last Thursday.
The line, which stretches from Westminster Hall all the way to Southwark Park in south London, is thought to be the world’s longest queue, and can even be seen from space.
The queue potentially even eclipses the 30,000 Russians who waited to get inside the USSR’s first McDonald’s restaurant when it finally opened on January 31, 1990 after the end of the Cold War.
Wait times stretched to more than 25 hours overnight as thousands of mourners wrapped up so they could keep warm, the BBC even produced a tongue-in-cheek weather forecast for the queue just before 7am this morning – a crisp 7C, while other parts of the UK hit freezing.
At about 1.15am today, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) online tracker said the expected wait time was at least 25 hours as people queued from Southwark Park in south-east London to pay their respects to the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, about five miles away. At around 7.20am, the tracker said mourners would have to wait at least 24 hours and warned people not to travel to join the queue – and to check back later on Saturday.
However, by 8am the Government had said that the end point of the queue was once more accessible in Southwark Park. At 10am, the DCMS online tracker said the expected wait time was around 16 hours – then at 1pm this fell further to 14 hours.
Undeterred by the extreme waiting times or cold weather, a steady stream of people continued to join the queue last night. Paul, a 49-year-old Scout Leader called his 13-hour wait to pay his respects to the Queen ‘brilliant’ and was adamant he would do it all again without hesitation.
‘The sense of camaraderie was amazing, we’ve made friends for life. Everybody was handing out sweets and cakes and singing,’ he said.
The queue begins on the Albert Embankment, along Belvedere Road, behind the London Eye, then crosses Lambeth Bridge and travels along the South Bank past the National Theatre, Tate Modern and HMS Belfast, before ending in Southwark Park.
In other developments:
- King Charles III went on a surprise walkabout with his son the Prince of Wales in Lambeth, where they met mourners queueing to see the Queen’s coffin. Earlier they had gone to Scotland Yard’s Lambeth headquarters and thanked emergency services for their work during the period of mourning;
- The new Prince and Princess of Wales met Commonwealth soldiers who will take part in Monday’s State Funeral, with William telling them the Queen would be ‘looking down and hoping it all goes well’;
- Prince Edward paid a moving tribute to his ‘beloved Mama’, saying the family had been ‘overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us’;
- He and his wife, Sophie – along with Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah – spent around 30 minutes meeting people outside Windsor Castle, collecting floral tributes and accepting condolences from well-wishers;
- Buckingham Palace confirmed a second vigil will take place tonight involving the Queen’s eight grand-children, including Prince Harry, who has been given permission to wear a military uniform despite being a non-working royal;
- Details were announced of the 25-mile route the Queen’s coffin will take in the State Hearse from London’s Wellington Arch to Windsor on Monday to allow more people to pay their respects;
- The five-mile queue to see the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall had to be closed for six hours because it was so long – with two further queues forming just to join the main one;
- Former England footballer David Beckham shunned offers of special treatment and spent 13 hours queueing before paying his respects to the late Queen;
- It was claimed that King Charles found out about his mother’s deteriorating health only hours before the public last Thursday;
- William told well-wishers they thought his grandmother ‘might get a bit more’ time, video footage shot in Norfolk on Thursday showed.
Mourners console one another in Westminster Hall as they pay a final tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Hundreds of thousands of people have joined the queue to see the Queen, despite warnings it could take them 24 hours to get to the front
Many mourners have become overwhelmed with emotion as they paid their respects to Britain’s longest-serving monarch
Members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster
Many shed tears as they left Westminster Hall today, bidding farewell to the Queen ahead of her funeral on Monday
Thousands have found themselves overwhelmed with emotion after leaving Westminster Hall – with most having waited more than 12 hours
The queue has become so big that it even received its own BBC weather forecast this morning – a crisp 7C
Members of the public join the queue in Southwark Park, south east London
Mourners in the queue to see the Queen lying-in-state brave the cold as temperatures plunged overnight
Mourners wrap up as they battle the cold while queueing to see the Queen’s coffin
Mourners were very emotional after leaving Westminster Hall to visit the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
Mourners sit on the pavement as they join the queue snaking through central London to see the Queen lying-in-state
King Charles greets people queueing to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth following her death
The Prince of Wales is presented with a Paddington Bear along the South Bank
King Charles greets people queueing to pay their respects to the Queen in London
William, Prince of Wales greets people queueing to see the Queen lying-in-state
Mourners who lined up for 13 hours and braved the cold overnight said the wait to see the Queen lying-in-state was ‘well-worth it’
RAF veteran Denise Boneham, 60, said the volunteers and police have made the queuing experience very positive
Members of the public join the queue in Southwark Park, south east London
A satellite image shows queues of people waiting to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth following her death
A satellite image shows queues of people in central London waiting to pay their respects
Mourners queueing at Tower Bridge in central London this morning as they wait to pay their respects to the Queen
Lord and Lady, Michael and Anne Heseltine in the queue to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
Members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state
Members of the public continue to wait in line to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state
A huge queue files near Tower Bridge this morning as mourners wait to see the Queen lying-in-state
Mourners queue in Southwark Park to see Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state at the Palace of Westminster today
Mourners today appeared to be in good spirits as they queue along the banks of the Thames
Mourners form a massive queue near Tower Bridge this morning as they wait to see the Queen lying-in-state
An enormous queue of mourners as people wait to see the Queen lying-in-state in the Palace of Westminster
A group of women try to keep warm as they join the queue winding along the River Thames
A woman pays her respects as members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
Members of the public view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
People queue to pay their respects as the HMS Belfast ship is lit up in purple to honour Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen is lying in state in London ahead of her funeral. Here is some of the information mourners need to know.
– What exactly is meant by the term ‘lying in state’?
Lying in state is usually reserved for sovereigns, current or past queen consorts, and sometimes former prime ministers.
During the formal occasion, the closed coffin is placed on view, as thousands of people queue to file past and pay their respects.
The coffin will be adorned with the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre.
– When and where will the Queen lie in state?
The late monarch’s lying in state in Westminster Hall opened to the public at 5pm yesterday and it will be open 24 hours a day until it closes at 6.30am on Monday, September 19 – the day of the Queen’s funeral.
– Where is Westminster Hall?
Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, is in the Palace of Westminster and is the oldest building on the parliamentary estate.
It forms part of the Westminster Unesco World Heritage Site and the UK Parliament website refers to its ‘great size’, the ‘magnificence’ of its roof, and its central role in British history.
The building has been the site of key events, such as the trial of Charles I, coronation banquets, and addresses by world leaders.
– Is there a big queue?
Yes. Government guidance says there will be a queue which is expected to be very long, predicted to be in the tens of thousands.
As it stands the queue is about 14 hours long.
People will need to stand for ‘many hours, possibly overnight’, with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be continuously moving.
People are not allowed to camp and a wristband system is being used to manage the queue, with those waiting in line given a coloured and numbered one, specific to each person, allowing them to leave for a short period.
‘Your wristband also allows you to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, then return to your place in the queue,’ according to the official guidance.
– What is the queue route?
Members of the public can join the line on the Albert Embankment, which runs behind the London Eye onto the Southbank before following the river past landmarks such as the National Theatre, the Tate Modern and HMS Belfast, reaching ‘maximum capacity’ at Southwark Park.
– Is there assistance for people who cannot queue for long periods of time?
The main queue has step-free access with a separate accessible route also planned to run from Tate Britain where timed entry slots will be issued for a queue going along Millbank to the Palace of Westminster.
Guide dogs will be allowed inside Westminster Hall, with sign language interpreters also on hand.
Venues including the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe will open for longer hours to accommodate those queuing. The British Film Institute on the Southbank will do the same while providing an outdoor screen with archive footage of the Queen.
It is believed that the queue to see the late monarch is the world’s longest queue in terms of distance, potentially even eclipsing the 30,000 Russians who waited to get inside the USSR’s first McDonald’s restaurant when it finally opened on January 31, 1990 after the end of the Cold War.
Those inside Westminster Hall were briefly shocked when a man was arrested after moving out of the queue to approach the Queen’s coffin last night. The Metropolitan Police said the incident occurred around 10pm, as the live feed from inside the hall cut away for a brief period. The force said he was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and remains in custody.
It comes as the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex prepare to lead the Queen’s grandchildren in standing guard around her coffin in London today – hours after their parents including King Charles III held an emotional vigil in the Palace of Westminster.
Health care assistant Donna Dempsey, 47, made the journey from King’s Lynn to London around 9pm last night, joining the back of the queue at 12:45.
She called her night in the queue ‘freezing’ and said it was going well until 3am, when it began to slow down – but she insisted it would all be worth the wait.
Claire Smart, 47, who had come to the capital from Teesside, said she had travelled to ‘pay my respects and to apologise for all the times as a little girl I rolled my eyes having to listen to the Queen’.
She went on: ‘I always wanted to curtsy in front of the Queen when she was alive, and sort of felt it was important to come and do it now.’
Tatie Kirst, 38, of Canada Water in south-east London, a project manager who had just joined the queue in Southwark Park, said: ‘Well, it’s a journey right? I think I’m prepared, I brought my good coat, I have a stool if I need to sit, I’m getting food and water, and we’re going to walk the way. I think there is always a question, Is it worth it? Can I make it? And hopefully, yes. I wanted to be part of this, pay my respect to the Queen.’
Shiv Pandian, 58, from Raynes Park, south-west London, said his 30 years working as a urologist for the NHS had prepared him for a long wait.
‘There’s lots of places to eat and toilets and things; you’re used to working long hours at the NHS,’ he said, laughing. ‘The Queen has served us for 70 years. I’ve served along with her for 30 years. I’ve seen three jubilees of hers, and I want to say goodbye.’
He added: ‘I got out at Waterloo and followed the queue backwards, and then at one point I was guided here to Southwark Park. Then it said reassuringly, it’s 14 hours from the entrance here, so I’m hoping by midnight today I’ll have seen the Queen.’
Paula Priest, 53, from Wolverhampton, said she was happy to wait ‘as long as it takes’ to reach Westminster Hall. ‘We’re here for the duration now, definitely.’
Those who braved the trip despite Government warnings were pleasantly surprised by the pace of the queue. Later on Saturday morning the tracker had stopped telling mourners not to travel, and the wait had dropped to 16 hours.
There was constant movement through Southwark Park until the Thames path along Bermondsey Wall East where the queue became more stationary.
Bright pink wristbands, which state they do not guarantee entry to Westminster Hall, continue to be handed out. Those waiting described the experience as well-organised, with friendly staff and officers on hand to assist.
This morning, new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley was seen patrolling the queue for the Queen’s lying in state near Lambeth Palace in south London. He greeted mourners, including several who were wearing blankets after waiting in line for hours through the early morning, and walked from the east towards Lambeth Bridge.
Alfie, 11, from Lancashire, wore his Scouts uniform complete with Platinum Jubilee badge, to join the queue for the lying in state.
His grandmother, Karen Todd, said: ‘Alfie really wanted to pay his respects to the Queen, and he wanted to come in his Scout uniform to honour her.
‘And we came because it’s a momentous occasion and a moment in history. They’ll always remember this for the rest of their lives, so we’ve only got this one opportunity.’
The family left home at 11.45pm on Friday, and Ms Todd said she ‘had to sleep in a car park for an hour and a half’ before getting on a bus to reach the queue.
Upon checking the queue tracker, Ms Todd said: ‘We were going to come this evening, but we came earlier because we didn’t want to miss it.’ She added: ‘It’s been okay. Clear roads. It’s well organised. Just hoping my legs and feet stay strong.’
The family brought thermals and plenty of snacks for the wait.
Sachet Pariyar had travelled from Basingstoke with his father, who had served in the Queen’s Gurkha regiment, to attend the lying in state.
He said: ‘My dad served in the British Army before and the Queen’s Gurkha regiment, and my grandfather as well. So, we feel like we have that connection with the Queen and we wanted to come and pay respects.’
He added that he had been checking the queue’s live tracker and had seen it might take 24 hours, adding he was ‘a bit worried’ about the wait, but ‘thought if we can get the wristband, then we will give it a try’.
Linda Partridge, 71, and Simon Hopkins, 59, travelled down from the West Midlands for the lying in state, despite warnings that the queue was closed, because they felt ‘that need to come down’.
Ms Partridge, who had left home at 3am, said: ‘Even though they said it was closed I felt that need to come down. If we’ve got here and then they turned away, then fine. I would have just felt I needed to come and then be told I couldn’t go’.
Mr Hopkins added: ‘There was a sense of perhaps ‘best not travel’ but just to make the journey and just to check it out, and you know, if it ended in disappointment, and then so be it.’
He likened the experience to a ‘pilgrimage’, which he said, ‘is a bit strange, because that kind of goes against my grain. I’ve been kind of drawn into it.’
James Birchall, 33, a trainee physiotherapist who travelled from Liverpool to pay his respects, was also queuing.
He said: ‘Now I just feel normal and unemotional but as I get closer and closer (to the Queen’s coffin) I think I’ll start to become more emotional and maybe five minutes before I go in I’ll probably, even though I don’t look like the type of person, I’ll probably start crying. I absolutely loved the Queen, she was great, she had been there all my life, I have always had respect for her. She was great for our country, always did her duty right until she died.
‘When she died I was overcome with emotion and I thought, I have got to come to London to see it.’
On the thousands of people queuing, he added: ‘I’m absolutely amazed because there is so many people, young and old – I did not think young people would come, necessarily, because they are not really in tune with monarchy, but there’s so many young people here to pay their respects which I think is awesome.’
Also queuing was Vlasta Picker, 73, of Bedford, who said: ‘I came here in 1977 on the Silver Jubilee. Growing up in central Europe, monarchy was a thing of the past, history.
‘I was really quite mesmerised, it was massive in 1977 and I have admired her ever since because she was a wonderful person, unique. To serve all her life until the end, it’s something, isn’t it? Unprecedented. And that’s why I want to be here.’
Members of the public join the queue in Southwark Park
Members of the public continue to wait in line to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II
Members of the public join the queue near Southwark Park
People wake up after a night spent at a makeshift campsite set up along The Mall
People have been camping on The Mall ahead of the funeral of the Queen
People wake up after a night spent at a makeshift campsite set up along The Mall
A person sits at a makeshift campsite set up along The Mall
Tower Bridge looms in the background as mourners queue to see the Queen lying-in-state
Mourners queueing in Southwark Park as they wait to see the Queen lying-in-state
More mourners carry coffee cups as they queue through Southwark Park to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall
Mourners including young children wrap up after temperatures plummeted overnight – as they queue to see the Queen
David Beckham wipes his eye while waiting to see the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall in London yesterday
Former England footballer David Beckham waits to see the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall in London yesterday
David Beckham said he feels ‘lucky’ to have spent time with the Queen while queueing to pay tribute yesterday
Now mourners sell used wristbands for up to £350
Some people have been cashing in on the Queen’s lying in state by selling used wristbands for up to £350.
Those joining the queue receive coloured wristbands to mark their place – so they can leave for a drink, or to go to the toilet, and then return.
But it appears that some mourners have seen the system as an opportunity to make some cash by selling the wristbands as souvenirs on eBay.
One person has listed an orange wristband, which features the abbreviation LISQ (Lying In State Queue), with an asking price of £350.
Small print on the paper band specifies that it does not guarantee entry and is strictly non-transferable. But in the description the seller has listed it as ‘brand new’ and ‘never been used’.
Another seller has listed a similar wristband for £100, while a third person is selling a yellow band – plus a bundle of commemorative newspapers – for £122. A fourth seller has put their ripped green band on the site for £100.
The item was accompanied by the description: ‘Previously used or worn orange wristband from the first 24 hours of the Queen Laying-In-State in Westminster Hall. This wristband gained entry to the original wearer to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth.
‘This is a piece of history. A small piece yet still a piece of history and this is your chance to own it if you did not have the chance to come yourself.
‘The queue to pay respects to the Queen Lying-In-State may be London’s longest. It took 7-8 hours from joining the queue to finally pay respects to the late Queen.’
The seller said they were happy to send the item internationally but specified that it was being sold as ‘historical memorabilia only.’
They stressed that 50 per cent of the final profit will be donated to the British Red Cross which Queen Elizabeth was the longest serving patron of.
Another person is trying to flog their orange wristband for the slightly lower price of £82.
The cheapest band currently listed on the site is up for grabs for £10.
The seller promised to donate 20 per cent of the final price to The Dogs Trust to reflect the Queen’s love of animals.
Official guidance published by the government states: ‘When you reach the back of the queue, you will be given a coloured and numbered wristband.
‘This is a record of when you joined the queue, however please note that having a wristband does not guarantee your entry to the Lying-in-State.
‘Wristbands are specific to each person joining the queue, and are strictly non-transferable. You must keep this wristband on at all times as it will be checked along the route.
‘Your wristband also allows you to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, then return to your place in the queue.’
Figures from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) show that 435 members of the public were treated along the route of the queue to see the Queen lying in state and surrounding areas over the past two days.
Some 291 people along the route of the queue and nearby in London were given medical assistance on Wednesday, with 17 needing hospital treatment, the LAS said. A further 144 people were treated on Thursday, with 25 people being taken to hospital.
The LAS said the majority of incidents attended were faints and collapses, resulting in head injuries.
It came as David Beckham made it inside Westminster Hall at about 3.30pm yesterday after joining the queue at 2am.
Meanwhile some people are trying to cash in by selling used wristbands for up to £350 on eBay. Those joining the queue receive wristbands to mark their place – so they can leave for a drink, or to go to the toilet, and then return.
MPs can jump the queue and bring in up to four guests, to the anger of those being forced to wait. Among those visiting yesterday were Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner.
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby cut sombre figures as they were seen at Westminster Hall. MailOnline was told the TV duo joined a separate queue for press and were taken into a press gallery.
Ex-England captain Beckham was spotted queueing at about 12.30pm, after joining the line at 2am to wait with everyone else. His representative confirmed to MailOnline that he had queued with the public, and said those around him initially did not take pictures of the 47-year-old star because there was an air of ‘mutual respect’.
Inside the park, a crowd formed in the holding pen next to the main queue as people begged to be let in. Security teams were allowing 100 people at a time from the holding area to join the main queue every ten to 15 minutes.
But outside the park, some people waited in the street with no idea of when they might be able to even join the queue.
The Government said in an update just before 10am: ‘Southwark Park has reached capacity. Entry will be paused for at least 6 hours. We are sorry for any inconvenience. Please do not attempt to join the queue until it re-opens.’
Just after 12pm, the Government also said the accessible queue was now ‘at capacity for today and entry for allocation of wristbands is currently paused’, adding that those with wristbands and entry times will still get in.
But then at 1pm, the entrance to Southwark Park reopened despite the Government still saying that the queue has been paused.
The gates were originally shut as queue attendants sought to deter new arrivals. However a second queue quickly began to form outside the park along Jamaica Road, leading attendants to reopen the gate.
A Number 10 spokesman directed questions to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, but said it was ‘the case that what DCMS have done is they’ve temporarily paused the queue for at least six hours after it reached maximum capacity.
‘That has always been part of our planning and that is to make sure as many as people as possible in the queue can enter the Palace of Westminster. But we keep it under review and there will be further updates from DCMS.’
The spokesman would not state what number of people represented ‘maximum capacity’ for the queue.
As Beckham approached Westminster Hall, he told Sky News: ‘This day was always going to be a difficult day. Our thoughts are with the family, it’s very special to hear all of the stories from people here. The most special moment for me was to receive my OBE. I took my grandparents with me who were huge royalists. I was so lucky that I was able to have a few moments like that in my life to be around Her Majesty. It’s a sad day, but a day to remember.’
Beckham added that it ‘meant so much’ to sing the National Anthem before England matches.
He told ITV News: ‘I thought by coming at 2am it was going to be a little bit quieter, but I was wrong, everybody had that in mind. But the people here, all ages, there was an 84-year-old lady walking around, a 90-year-old gentleman walking around. Everybody wants to be here to be part of this experience and to celebrate what Her Majesty has done for us.’
Images shared on Twitter showed many people trying to capture a picture of Beckham as he waited at the front of the line.
Twitter user Jules Birkby from Leeds said Beckham was ‘just a few lines behind us in the snake’, writing: ‘The Queue is now full of people trying to photograph David Beckham and forgetting to actually move onwards. It’s madness! I feel a bit sorry for him, but he’s taking it very well. It’s made me almost forget that we’ve been in The Queue almost TWELVE HOURS though.’
A fellow mourner said: ‘He was chatting happily to people around him about the times he met the Queen. I think we were all stunned to see him here given how famous he is. He had his cap pulled down so I think he was trying to keep a low profile.
‘I didn’t recognise him straight away but he was a lovely bloke, happy to talk. Clearly he was in the queue for some time, perhaps since the early hours like myself. He was obviously keen to pay his respects to the Queen and felt he should join the rest of us rather than use the VIP line which goes down much quicker.’
While some questioned whether Beckham had actually been queuing up, one woman tweeted: ‘My friend’s mum says he joined the queue at about 2am. He’s bought the people around him donuts! The guys a ledge.’
Royal guards take part in final drills along the Long Walk, as they prepare for the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth lI, near Windsor Castle
Royal guards take part in final drills along the Long Walk, as they prepare for the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth lI, near Windsor Castle
British military personnel take part in final drills along the Long Walk, as they prepare for the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth lI, near Windsor Castle
The hearse arrives along the Long Walk in Windsor during an early morning rehearsal
Bagpipes are played as military personnel take part in final drills along the Long Walk
Thousands of people have queued late into the night, despite warnings they could be waiting for up to 24 hours
Mourners have lined the banks of the Thames for a chance to see Queen Elizabeth II lie in state in Westminster Hall
People travelled from across the country to say a final farewell to the Queen, who died last week at the age of 96
Liz Truss to meet New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and Australian leader Anthony Albanese as they arrive to the UK for the Queen’s funeral
Liz Truss is primed to hold the first of her confirmed head-to-heads with world leaders as they make the trip to the UK for the Queen’s funeral.
The Prime Minister will speak with her counterparts from New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, with the conversations framed by No 10 as chats rather than formal bilateral meetings.
Downing Street suggested they would be an opportunity for condolences over the Queen’s death, with politics likely to come up.
The first of the weekend’s meetings will be based at the Government’s Chevening country residence, rather than Chequers, which is said to be undergoing routine maintenance work after Boris Johnson’s exit.
Ms Truss will see New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern and Australian leader Anthony Albanese on Saturday.
Ms Ardern has said the Queen’s death and new King will be the ‘focus of conversation’, with the pair also likely to discuss Ukraine and the UK’s free trade agreement with New Zealand. But all will be ‘within the context of the week of mourning that the UK is currently in’.
The conversation between Ms Truss and Mr Albanese may also touch on trade, with the countries last year signing a deal estimated by the Government to be worth £2.3billion to the UK economy.
One of those who was waiting in the holding line was Terrence Houlahan, 56, who had ridden his Penny Farthing bike down to the park in Bermondsey from his home in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, some 40 miles north.
Mr Houlahan, who is originally from New York but has lived in the UK for 20 years, said: ‘It took me three hours to get here. In fact, a little longer as I first went to London Bridge by mistake thinking the queue started there.
‘So I’ve ridden all the way just to stand in line for 15 to 20 hours pushing my Penny Farthing along before cycling back another three hours in the dark. It sounds crazy but I wanted to be here and honour the Queen as well as show my support for the new King, Charles III. Charles has to put on a public show now in his new role and that must be busting him up inside. Most of us get to grieve privately. This is as much to show him solidarity as it is to pay tribute to the Queen.’
Mr Houlahan said he was going to leave his Penny Farthing outside Westminster Hall before heading inside. He said: ‘I don’t need to chain it up or anything because hardly anyone knows how to ride it.
‘But I race these bikes so I guess it’s also a good bit of training whilst also taking in a really important, historic moment. Something that is way bigger than myself or any individual.’
Moses Martinez, meanwhile, flew into London Heathrow Airport from Nicaragua this morning especially to join the queue of mourners.
The 32-year-old booked his flight as soon as heard news of the Queen’s death and has spent nearly £2,000 on flights and a hotel in London.
Mr Martinez, who lives in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, said: ‘I had to be here in London. I’ve never been here before, never been to the UK before.
‘But when I heard the Queen had died and seeing thousands of British people queue to see her lie in state, I knew now was the time that I had to go.
‘I flew in at 7am this morning after a 12-hour flight, dropped my bags in the hotel and came straight to this queue. I know I could be in line for as many as 20 hours but I don’t care, I don’t need sleep, I just want to pay my respects.
‘She meant so much to me, ever since I was a small boy. She was a symbol of Britain. I’ve paid a lot of money and it’s a lot of travelling but for me it’s worth all of it. People are very friendly and polite.
‘It’s a once in a lifetime experience, I thought to myself ‘it’s now or never’ as I won’t ever be able to do this again. I’m so glad I made the journey.’
Shannon Baird, 28, hopped on a flight from Dublin just to join the queue and will return straight after seeing the Queen’s coffin.
She lives in Pennsylvania in the US but is spending a few months in Ireland and said: ‘Once I’m done, I’m back on a flight at 9pm tomorrow. This is a moment in history and I had to be a part of it. I know it’s going to be tough but I’m prepared for it. She’s an iconic figure.’
Barrie Scott, 72, from East Moseley, said: ‘We’ve been in this secondary queue for 45 minutes so it’s a bit frustrating that we haven’t even joined the proper line yet.
‘But hopefully we’ll be through soon. It is moving still, people are being let through, we’ve not been turned away or anything like that.
‘I know it’s going to be a long, long day but then the Queen was on the throne for 70 years showing such service and dedication.
People wait in a queue to pay their respects as the Tower Bridge is lit up in purple last night
Mourners queue in Southwark Park yesterday to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
Queuing for the lying in state of Queen Elizabeth II this morning at Southwark Park in London
Mourners queue in Southwark Park yesterday to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II who is lying-in-state
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako fly to London in first class luxury before getting on a bus with the rest of the world leaders to get to Queen’s funeral
Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have boarded a first class flight to London this morning – where they’re expected to board a shuttle bus alongside other world dignitaries to get to the Queen’s funeral on Monday.
The life of the late Queen Elizabeth II will be celebrated in the ‘reception of the century’ this weekend before she’s officially laid to rest on Monday surrounded by the who’s who of the global elite – including presidents, emperors and royal families.
Traditionally, a Japanese emperor would not attend the funeral of any person other than their own parents due to a deep-rooted cultural belief in which death is considered impure.
His journey to Britain alongside the empress – the first since acceding the throne in 2019 – is considered a sign of respect and highlights the bonds formed between the two royal families during Her Majesty’s reign.
Leaked Government documents revealed plans for world leaders to travel en masse in a bus to Westminster Abbey for Monday’s service, rather that using private cars.
British and US officials have since played down the prospect of US President Joe Biden having to travel on a bus into central London. Emperor Naruhito is expected to be among those travelling to the funeral on the shuttle.
According to Politico, the 62-year-old and other visiting royals will be bussed to the service under strict Foreign Office guidance.
The website reported Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and the Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima would also be put on a shuttle bus.
‘Compared to that, 15 or even 20 hours or however long it takes doesn’t seem too bad to say thank you and pay my respects.’
Karen Hare, 59, from Upminster, Essex, said: ‘We’ve been joking that we’re queuing up for the queue! As if that isn’t already long enough! ‘I’m annoyed at my husband because I wanted to leave the house at 3am and he talked me out of it only to change his mind at 9am.
‘If it wasn’t for him we’d be in the main queue by now. It’s not ideal but there’s thousands and thousands of people who want to pay their respects. That’s what the Queen means to people, she felt like part of your family.
‘I felt I had to come down today, I felt a sense of service to thank her for all the fantastic things she did for the country. We’ll never get this opportunity again and I knew if I didn’t come, I’d have regretted it all my life.’
Mourners said there was ‘breathtaking’ serenity awaiting them in Westminster Hall where ‘you could hear a pin drop’ in the silence.
But security jobsworths had a field day as they took hand sanitiser and boiled sweets from elderly mourners queuing.
Stewards in hi-vis were accused of being overzealous as they cracked down on what could and could not be brought into Westminster Hall. Mourners also described brazen pushing-in towards the back of the line as young people took advantage of spaces left by slow elderly people in the queue.
Officials have enforced airport-style security as the public enter the Palace of Westminster. One mourner was forced to hand over a single Werther’s Original, lipstick and hand sanitiser, while others told of various items being confiscated.
It comes as it emerged that the Queen’s grandchildren will stand guard around her coffin in London today.
Notably, the Duke of Sussex will join his brother the Prince of Wales in wearing uniform around the coffin in Westminster Hall, ahead of the Queen’s state funeral on Monday.
Harry, who saw action on the front line during two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has previously been denied the chance to wear his military uniform as he publicly mourns, because he is no longer a working royal. But royal sources say the King has decided his youngest son can wear uniform for the vigil, saying he will stand at the foot of the coffin, with William at the head.
Despite being a former Army officer, he has been in civilian dress for official events, including walking behind his grandmother’s coffin on Wednesday when it was carried to Westminster Hall for lying in state.
Last night, the Queen’s children – Charles, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex – took part in their own vigil.
The King, Anne, Andrew and Edward had solemn looks on their faces as they stood vigil around their mother’s coffin, with their heads bowed throughout as members of the public filed slowly past them.
It comes as final preparations are under way for the funeral on Monday, with politicians and royal dignitaries from around the world expected to arrive throughout the weekend. Prime Minster Liz Truss will today meet the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand – Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern – at the Government’s Chevening country residence, a No 10 spokesperson said.
Charles will also meet chiefs of staff at Buckingham Palace today and visit police headquarters to thank the emergency services for their work in planning the funeral.
Tomorrow, Ms Truss will meet Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, Polish President Andrzej Duda and US President Joe Biden at Downing Street. She will have an audience with the King before attending his reception for visiting heads of state at Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
Charles concluded his tour of the home nations yesterday, starting his day with a visit to Wales, after trips to Northern Ireland and Scotland in recent days.
Some 800 people, including members of the Queen’s Household and Windsor estate staff, will attend the committal service afterwards at 4pm in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
After the funeral, the King and members of the royal family will walk behind the Queen’s coffin to Wellington Arch when it leaves Westminster Abbey, before it is driven to Windsor on the state hearse.
Be part of the historic day: Queen’s final journey to Windsor is extended so thousands more can see her pass by and say farewell
Palace officials yesterday extended the route of the Queen’s final journey – to enable more people to bid her farewell.
Instead of taking the motorway to her resting place in Windsor Castle, she will follow A-roads.
Last night the exact course was revealed, allowing tens of thousands of well-wishers to choose a spot along the route.
They will be able to catch a last glimpse of Her Majesty between 1pm and 3pm, after the service at Westminster Abbey.
First the Queen’s coffin will be borne by an extraordinary procession of the State Gun Carriage through London to Wellington Arch, where it will be transferred to the State Hearse at 1pm. Other members of the Royal Family will then travel along the M4 to Windsor, where a second ceremony will be held at St George’s Chapel.
The route of the Queen’s final journey has been announced and her funeral cortege will use A-roads rather than motorways so as many people a possible can see her coffin
The Queen’s final journey will see her taken from Westminster Hall to Windsor where she will be reunited with Prince Phillip
King Charles III last night stood in silence at the head of his mother’s coffin as members of the public looked on
But if the former monarch had been driven via the motorway, mourners wanting to say their goodbyes would have been unable to line the route.
The Daily Mail’s Robert Hardman was among those saying earlier this week that the post-funeral route should be extended so more Britons could say farewell. Now the palace has disclosed the route. From Wellington Arch, it will go along the south side of Hyde Park via South Carriage Drive before turning down Queens Gate, and then along Cromwell Road.
The cortege will follow the A4 through west London, going along Talgarth Road via the Hammersmith Flyover, and along the Great West Road.
Just before Heathrow, the hearse will switch to the A30 Great South West Road, and travel around the south side of the airport.
It will process along London Road, still the A30, and Staines Road, before crossing the M25 to Windsor Road (the A308) for the final leg to Windsor along a countryside stretch of the River Thames.
The route will take the Queen’s coffin through 25 miles of London streets and villages in Surrey and Berkshire. Last night a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The route to Windsor is planned with the public in mind.’
The news confirms suggestions that the Queen’s coffin would not travel on the M4, which would have been the quickest route, giving thousands more Britons the chance to pay their last respects as her coffin passes.
Travelling along A-roads west out of London to Berkshire means it will be easier for mourners to line up along the road.
The Queen: All you need to know following her passing and a look back at her 70-year reign
- What happens on day of the Queen’s funeral?
- Who will be at the Queen’s funeral? From Joe Biden and Jacinda Ardern to European royalty and Her Majesty’s ladies-in-waiting
- Who becomes the Prince of Wales when Charles becomes King?
- How Princess ‘Lilibet’ became the UK’s longest-serving monarch
- What was the Queen really like?
- How the Queen’s family came to celebrate her Majesty’s historic reign during the Platinum Jubilee
- Trains to London for the Queen’s funeral: Which rail services are running?
- PICTURES: Queen’s iconic fashion sense over the last eight decades
- PICTURES: The Queen’s personal jewellery collection – including her engagement ring from Prince Philip
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