'We had tingles down our spine the whole time' - crowds fall silent for Queen's funeral

·3-min read

The crowd that gathered outside Westminster Abbey in central London for the Queen's funeral service fell into a reverential silence as the ceremony began.

Many people arrived amid chilly temperatures either late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning to secure a place opposite the Houses of Parliament and the Abbey or along Parliament Street.

One woman present had been at The Mall for the Queen's coronation in 1953.

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Stephanie Carter, 74, who was wearing her father's medals, said she felt she had seen Queen Elizabeth II's service to the nation "from the very beginning".

Ms Carter's father served in the Army from 1941 until he retired in 1978.

Explaining what her father's medals were for, she said two commemorated him for his service to the Army during the Second World War; one was the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, and another was the Medal for Good Conduct and Long Service.

Asked what it meant to her to be here today, Ms Carter said: "Just about everything. I was in The Mall on her coronation day. So I have seen it from the very beginning.

"(The Queen) was (her father's) commander-in-chief and my parents have long since gone so I am representing them and all my friends from service life that couldn't get here because they are all over the place or not well enough."

Before the service the crowd eagerly talked to each other and shared snacks and drinks, but as the loudspeakers began broadcasting the funeral, some bowed their heads and some gently hushed children.

Many stood in quiet contemplation while others wiped away tears.

During the two minute's silence for the Queen, this typically busy street in central London fell so quiet you could hear the rustle of coats and the odd cough.

The crowd then held their phones high in the air to capture photos and video of the Queen's coffin as it passed by followed by members of the Royal Family.

After the procession had passed, members of the crowd turned to the friends they had made during the day to wish them a safe journey home and to share how nice it had been to meet them.

Several told Sky News how important they felt it had been to be here for the service and procession.

Witnessing the day had been an "important part of our history," said Michael Day, 56. "We do pomp and ceremony in this country so well. We couldn't fault it. And also the weather held out - how great was that?"

Several commented on how the friendliness and camaraderie of the crowd contrasted with the sheer silence when the Queen's funeral service began.

"Everyone was having a lovely time before, chatting away to people we didn't know, but then as soon as it started it was complete silence," said Brenda Cook, 69. She said the service was "very simple and very appropriate".

"We have wanted to be here all our lives," said her husband David, 68. "It was wonderful. Everyone was really friendly and chatty, sharing biscuits."

Mrs Cook added: "It was great being here. It was one of those things you won't forget."

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Sisters Carol Martin, 64, and Debbie Chitty, 62, described hearing the service to the Queen and seeing the procession pass as an "amazing" and "stunning" experience.

"We had tingles down our spine the whole time really," Ms Martin said.