Mourners in Windsor say Queen’s coffin procession marks ‘end of an era’

·5-min read

Mourners in Windsor have said witnessing the final procession of the Queen’s coffin was “very moving” and marked not just the finale of the mourning period but “the end of an era”.

Thousands of people fell silent, held their phones aloft and waved Union Jack flags as the state hearse carrying the Queen passed along the Long Walk towards St George’s Chapel in the Berkshire town.

The crowd was so dense that those at the back could view the hearse only through their phones held high on selfie sticks.

Children sat on their parents’ shoulders and waves of applause rippled through the crowd after the procession had passed them by.

Kirsty Jones, 44, said seeing the last part of the public journey “really felt final” while her husband David, 50, said it marked “the end of an era”.

Clad with union flags and a toy Paddington bear, the couple had stayed overnight in a nearby hotel with their children, Amelia, 11, Hadley, nine, and Hattie, seven, after paying their respects in their home town of Sandringham, Norfolk.

Ms Jones, a former nurse, told PA: “It was very moving, it made it real.

“You do see more when you watch it on the television from home, but I wanted the children to actually be part of it and feel the sadness and the grief that everyone is feeling.”

Mr Jones added: “It’s about making memories – somebody said on the television this morning that it marks the end of the post-war era – and it does feel like the end of an era.”

Retired teacher Susan Luppetti, 72, who came from her home in Somerset for the funeral, said: “I did not expect it to be so emotional when it went past.

“It is the end of an era.

“What surprised me is how everyone went silent. It felt very personal and it did not feel like a state funeral at all.

“The silence was wonderful and to see that level of respect was quite amazing.”

Ray Bennett, 53, from Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, had a front row view on the Long Walk with his wife Anita, 49, and daughter Connie, nine, after arriving at 6.30am to secure the spot.

Mr Bennett, an aircraft repairman, told PA: “It was very moving, it hit me more than I expected – especially when the crowd went quiet.”

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Emma, the monarch’s fell pony, stands as the Queen’s coffin arrives at Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ms Bennett, said it was their young daughter who requested that they went because she “wanted to be part of history”.

Malcolm Caudren, who served for 22 years in the RAF, said it was an “honour” to come down to Windsor to pay his respects to the Queen.

Mr Caudren, 57, from Buckinghamshire, left the forces as a corporal and recalled seeing her during the Guard of Honour ceremony in the 1980s.

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Members of the public line the route in Windsor ahead of the procession for the coffin of the Queen (Stuart C Wilson/PA)

Speaking at the Long Walk, he said: “It’s an honour.

“She was ultimately our boss that we loved and respected, which is why lots of guys around here have their medals on.”

He said the past couple of weeks had been “emotional” for his former comrades, adding: “It is almost like losing a member of your family as when you’re in the forces you are in the family.

“The Queen and all the royal family make us feel a part of that as well.”

Jennifer Bryant said she wanted to come to the Long Walk to say goodbye to the Queen, because the last time she had seen her in person was there 42 years ago.

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The Ceremonial Procession of the coffin of the Queen travels down the Long Walk at Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Ms Bryant, 73, from Reading, recalled the “amazing experience” of seeing the Queen leaving for Royal Ascot in 1980, and how the Queen had waved to her and her three-year-old daughter.

She said she felt emotional as the thousands of mourners in Windsor fell quiet for the two-minute silence.

Ms Bryant added that, for her, the Queen represented “stability and reliability”.

Gideon Rutherford said he wanted to take his three children to Windsor to be a part of the historic day, as he feels they will “remember it for the rest of their lives”.

Speaking from the Long Walk, Mr Rutherford, from Hampshire, said: “It’ll be a long time before we experience anything like this again in our lives, so it’s a moment in our country’s history and it’s important to experience it.”

His children, Edward, 11, and nine-year-old twins Theadora and Honor, attend Cheam preparatory school in Headley, Hampshire, where the King and his late father the Duke of Edinburgh studied.

Theadora and Honor said it felt “very special” to attend the same school as the King and they felt it was “very important” to be at Windsor for the Queen’s funeral as she “did a lot for our country”.

Artist Charles Minty, 41, from near Bath, said he arrived on the Long Walk in Windsor on Sunday, got a spot at the front by the barriers and had been painting ever since.

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People wait along the Long Walk outside Windsor Castle for the coffin to arrive (Alastair Grant/PA)

Mr Minty, who was named after the King, having being born on the wedding day of the then Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, had finished a portrait of the Queen and had started working on a painting of Windsor Castle from the perspective of the crowds.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “I finished the portrait as it is a tribute to the Queen and wanted to express how I feel through my art.

“I enjoy the energy I get from people who watch me paint, so as such a big event it is a way I can use my talent to express gratitude to Her Majesty.”

He added: “I’ve felt very emotional this morning. I was in tears, it was so moving, the atmosphere, the beautiful music playing.”

He added that he is “super tired” after having no sleep for two days.