Resolute mourners continued joining the five-mile-long line to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II in London Saturday — despite official warnings that they could face a wait of as long as 24 hours in chilly temperatures before catching a glimpse of the monarch’s casket in Westminster Hall.
“It felt like the right thing to do,” Jane O’Kane, 52, told the Sunday Times of London. “The Queen has been there all our lives.”
It took 12 hours, but O’Kane finally made it into the grand marble hall to salute the Queen one last time.
“I curtseyed,” she said. “It was so emotional.”
The eye-popping queue, which snakes along the south bank of the Thames River before crossing Lambeth Bridge, could be a record-breaker.
“As much as the British enjoy a queue, I don’t think we’ve ever seen the likes of this on our shores before, at least not in a couple of generations,” said Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief at Guinness World Records.
Nearly 306,000 people lined up in February 1952 to pay tribute to George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, at his lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.
Guinness World Records has already announced that the flight that carried the queen’s casket to London this week was the most tracked flight in history, with 4.79 million users following its progress on the website Flightradar24.
The lengthy London line included celebrities like David Beckham, who waited for 12 hours Friday to pay his tearful respects, and visitors from as far away as Peru.
“It was seeing that image of the Queen alone at Prince Philip’s funeral that made me want to come,” explained Sam Record, 30, a healthcare assistant from Derby. “That showed how she stood by us, particularly when we learnt the prime minister was having parties and ignoring the rules.”
King Charles III and Prince William surprised mourners Saturday morning, walking among the crowd to thank those waiting so patiently to pay their respects.
Wristbands given to to those who endured the queue in recent days are already going up for sale on Ebay, the BBC reported — not for purposes of skipping the line, but as souvenirs.
An “accessible queue” to accommodate those with disabilities had to be shuttered Saturday evening, after wristbands for all its available time slots were distributed.
Meanwhile, rehearsals continued for the thousands of British troops set to participate in Monday’s state funeral.
British soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Queen’s Company, which traditionally guards the deceased monarch’s body, were recalled from duty in Iraq this week to march in the ceremony, the Telegraph reported.
A bearer party of 12 soldiers from the unit joined a moonlit rehearsal early Saturday as hundreds of troops escorted an empty hearse up Windsor’s Long Walk.
The escorts from the Grenadier Guards — the soldiers with the tall black hats who stand sentry outside Buckingham Palace — will accompany the queen’s final journey to Windsor Castle, where she will be laid to rest Monday afternoon.