Queue for the Queen stretches 24 hours as Beckham joins mourners
Tens of thousands of mourners queuing in central London were warned on Friday that it would take 24 hours for the Queen’s coffin to arrive and that temperatures were expected to drop.
Britons of all ages and walks of life lined up around the clock to pay their respects to the monarch, joining a five-mile long line that started near Bermondsey on the south bank of the Thames and then Crosses the river. Westminster Hall of Parliament.
Undaunted by predictions of a chilly night ahead, a stream of well-wishers joined the queue until an official tracker put the expected wait time at 24 hours.
The London Ambulance Service said it and partner agencies had treated 435 patients who fell ill en route by the end of Thursday, with hundreds more expected.
“I have no feeling in my knees or legs at all,” said mourner Hyakunth Apah from London, who was in the queue. “But it’s been fine. Most people are lovely and we’ve had a pretty good time.”
Around 750,000 people are expected to pay their respects to the Queen’s coffin on Monday ahead of her state funeral on Monday.
On Friday they included England football legend David Beckham, who is believed to have joined the queue at 0200 and queued for more than 10 hours.
“We as a nation are fortunate to have had someone who led us the way His Majesty led us, with time, with kindness, with care and always with assurance,” he said. He told reporters after offering his condolences through tears.
“I think that’s one thing that we all felt safe and we’ll continue to do with the royal family. But I think her majesty was something special and she’s missed not just in our country but around the world. Everyone will remember.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in London for the funeral, was among those who visited Westminster Hall on Friday, pausing to curtsy as she approached the casket.
Tate Crist, 38, a project manager at Canada Water in southeast London who had just joined the queue at Southwark Park, said: “Okay, is this trip OK? I think I’m ready, I’m good at it. Bringing a coat, I have it. If I need to sit, a stool, I’m getting food and water, and we’ll be on our way.
“I think there’s always a question, is it worth it? Can I make it? And hopefully, yes. I wanted to be a part of it, pay my respects to the Queen.”
The queue was stopped for the first 40 minutes when it reached capacity, and when it reopened the DCMS urged mourners not to join the queue until at least 1600.
Authorities completely stopped around 1,135 people from queuing at the entrance to Southwark Park due to overwhelming demand.
Downing Street said the queue system was going to plan.
James Birchall, 33, a trainee physiotherapist who traveled from Liverpool to pay his respects, was also in the queue.
She said: “Now I just feel normal and unemotional but as I’m getting closer. [to the Queen’s coffin] I think I’ll start getting more emotional and maybe five minutes before I go in, even though I don’t look like that type of person, I’ll probably start crying.
“I absolutely loved the Queen, she was great, she was there all her life, I always respected her, she was great for our country, always did her duty until she died. Emotions and I thought, I have to come to London to see him.
Of the thousands of people queuing, he added: “I’m absolutely amazed because there are so many people, young and old – I didn’t think young people would come, because they’re not really into the monarchy. But there are. There are a lot of young people here to pay their respects, which I think is great.”
Also queuing was Vlasta Packer, 73, from Bedford, who said: “I came here for the Silver Jubilee in 1977. Having grown up in central Europe, the monarchy was a thing of the past, history.
“I was really quite fascinated, it was huge in 1977 and I’ve admired her ever since because she was an amazing person, unique. To serve her whole life to the end, that’s something, isn’t it? Unprecedented. And that’s why I want to stay here.”
Meanwhile, a man was arrested at Westminster Hall last night after he charged at the coffin. An eyewitness said the police “caught him within two seconds”.
Another man has been charged with two counts of sexual assault. Adio Adeshine, 19, is accused of exposing himself and pushing mourners from behind as they waited in line at Victoria Tower Gardens on Wednesday evening as Westminster Hall opened its doors to the public. .
Adeshine is said to have jumped into the River Thames in an attempt to escape police officers before coming out and being arrested.
He was remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of breaching a sexual harm prevention order.