Lying In State: Mourners describe 'eerie but beautiful' Westminster Hall atmosphere
There is a quiet at the Queen's lying in state that you would not expect in the middle of one of the busiest and most bustling cities in the world.
In this ancient, 900-year-old space in the Palace of Westminster, hundreds of thousands of mourners will file past to catch a glimpse of the Queen's coffin, in a room broadcast to millions around the world.
The sombre atmosphere inside this vast chamber today - described by visitors as 'eerie, but beautiful' - is a world away from the usual day-to-day chatter of tourists using audioguides, footsteps echoing loudly.
Through an adjacent archway is a cafe which usually does a steady trade supplying coffees and cakes to the throngs of visitors and families. It's unsurprisingly closed, serving instead as an entrance for the disabled mourners who've also waited for hours.
The coffin is on a purple platform draped in the Royal Standard, a red and yellow flag featuring lions and an angel-harp - with a wreath featuring white roses, dahlias and foliage from Balmoral and Windsor, laid next to the shimmering Imperial crown and the Sovereign's orb and sceptre.
A cross stands at the foot of the coffin, with four candles flickering at each corner.
In the light, the crown glimmers with diamonds so bright they are mesmerising.
Around 200 people can be spotted in the room at a given time - yet, if you close your eyes, you could almost think you're alone.
The only sounds which punctuate the silence are the occasional sob, a coo of a baby, and the shuffling of feet across the stone floor.
Finally taking their moment to stand alongside the casket, mourners take a few seconds to stand, bow, curtsy, or simply give a respectful nod of the head.
Almost all onlookers keep moving of their own accord, with stewards - briefed to maintain the steady flow through the hall - whispering a curt 'Keep moving' to any seen to be lingering a little too long.
One of few audible sounds in the hall is the lone banging of a stick on the ground to signal the replacing of the guard every 20 minutes, and the guard itself.
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Their steady surefooted march down the narrow steps reverberates around the room as they exit a small archway to the awe of mourners.
And you would never guess the observers had stood in the queue for around nine hours.
Despite what must have been a gruelling wait, they are calm, focused, and present.
Some hold babies, some hold walking sticks, many hold each other; people of every age, different ethnicities, people of many different religions filing past silently.
"It really hits you, doesn't it?" one man tells a steward as he leaves, while another onlooker wearing military medals salutes the coffin as he exits.
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Outside on the streets of Whitehall, the people who have queued for hours are emotional.
Mourners frequently say the hours of queuing are a price worth paying - with one telling Yahoo News they queued for 11 hours, and were among the first people in and out.
Another told us, tearfully: "Still, now, I think we find it quite difficult to realise that she's not here anymore. And, I don't know, it's just a really sad day."
Amanda from Canada said she had not expected to be as touched by the lying in state because she was not British.
"I'm Canadian, so I don't feel as connected to the Queen as some British people might be," she said.
"I think just being in there it was a very powerful, and [it had a] moving ambiance... people were so amazed, at eight or nine hours of waiting.
"I was expecting it to be very churchy. It was actually really nice comforting in there just so serene."
Another mourner, Nick, said his experience in Westminster Hall was "eerie, in a way".
"It was very beautiful in there," he said, simply. "And very emotional, definitely."
Alice, who attended the Queen's mother's lying in state in 2002, said she'd anticipated what the atmosphere may be like.
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"I came to the Queen mother's lying in state - so I kind of knew what to expect," she said.
"But it's always a very moving experience.
"I didn't expect myself to be quite so emotional. I think it's just wonderful we're able to go and do this."
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The public viewing opened at 5pm on Wednesday, and will stay open 24 hours a day until 6.30am on Monday – the day of the Queen’s funeral, which will take place at 11am.
Whitehall officials have worked out a 10-mile route for mourners until then, with warnings they could wait up to 30 hours before they see the coffin.
On Friday they temporarily closed the queue for six hours to ensure everyone got an opportunity to view the coffin - however, shortly after, a queue began to join the queue.
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