Silent crowds file past the coffin of the only British monarch most have known

·2-min read
(Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
(Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

A constant procession of mourners is continuing to make its way through Westminster Hall to pay their respects at the Queen’s lying in state.

Members of the public who have queued for hours along the Thames are making their way down wide stone steps to file past the Queen’s coffin as it lies draped in the Royal Standard on a wooden frame in the centre of Westminster Hall.

The jewels in the Imperial State Crown, sceptre and orb, which are placed on top, glitter in the candlelight and light shining from high windows and the vaulted wooden ceiling of the 900-year-old hall.

The room at the heart of the Palace of Westminster, empty of its usual visitors’ desks and displays and chattering groups, is hushed, footsteps muffled on carpet laid along its length as the mourners file silently through.

They range from those old enough to have been born before the Queen’s reign to children too young to understand the history they are witnessing.

MPs and their guests, security guards and parliamentary staff have joined members of the public for the slow walk past the coffin.

Some are dressed in dark suits, formal wear or uniforms, but most are in ordinary clothes, suitable for queuing in the elements.

As they draw level with the coffin, many stop for a moment, bowing their heads, bringing their hands together in what seems to be a quiet prayer of thanks, saluting or crossing themselves.

Many are visibly moved by the brief experience they have waited hours for, wiping away tears or putting an arm around friends or family members as they move on.

Every so often, the hall stills and the procession of mourners stops as a new 10-strong watch of royal guards makes a slow march into the hall, to take up their places on the dais and relieve the motionless troops around the coffin.

Then the procession begins again. The mourners keep coming, and will continue to come until early on Monday before the Queen’s state funeral.

As they reach the far end of the hall, many turn again before heading out into a bright, busy central London afternoon, to say a final quiet goodbye to the only British monarch that most had ever known before now.