Stay calm and wear a blanket. Despite the chilly temperatures and the best efforts of government officials to combat the ever-growing queue, thousands of mourners lined up overnight for a chance to finally say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II.
Meanwhile, dignitaries such as President Biden traveled to London to pay their final homage to the monarch who died earlier this month at the age of 96.
Wait times peaked in 24 hours shortly after the public was first admitted to London’s Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin would remain until Monday’s funeral.
Temperatures early on Saturday dropped to 43 degrees Fahrenheit. More cool weather was expected from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
“Today’s forecast is cold. Warm clothing is recommended, “the ministry responsible for the line wrote on Twitter.
Ambulance crews healed hundreds of people waiting in line, dozens of whom were hospitalized, BBC reports. Volunteers also handed out blankets and cups of tea to those standing in line.
Despite the weather, the mourners described the warmth of the shared experience.
“It was cold at night, but we had great companions, we made new friends. This camaraderie was wonderful, ”said Chris Harman from London. “It was worth it. I’d do it again and again and again. I will go to the end of the world for my queen.
People had many reasons to come, from love for the Queen to thirst be part of a historic moment. Simon Hopkins, who traveled from his home in the middle of England, compared it to a “pilgrimage”.
“(This) is a bit weird because it goes against my grain,” he said. “I kind of got involved in this.”
King Charles III and his eldest son, Prince William, thanked the kind people for their patience during their unexpected visit on Saturday morning. Until then, the line orbited Southwark Park, extending for at least 5 miles.
Later that day, the Prince of Wales joined his brother, Prince Harry, to watch over her at a state ceremony. William, now heir to the throne, stood with his eyes downwardly facing the head of the coffin and Harry at his feet. Both princes, who were military veterans, were in uniform at the king’s request.
The rest of the Queen’s grandchildren, children of Princess Anne, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; the daughters of Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenia; and Prince Edward’s two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, also stood with them.
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Before the vigil, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie issued a statement praising their “beloved grandmother.”
“How many we thought you would be here forever. And we all miss you terribly. You were our Mother, our guide, our loving hand on our back leading us through this world. You have taught us so much, and we will cherish these lessons and memories forever, ”wrote the sisters.
Lying down in the state will continue until early Monday morning, when the Queen’s coffin is transported to nearby Westminster Abbey for a state funeral, approaching the 10-day mourning of the Queen’s d*ath at Balmoral on September 8. She was the longest reigning monarch of the nation.
Hundreds of dignitaries from around the world flock to pay their last homage to Queen Elizabeth II at the ceremony. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden boarded Air Force One early Saturday for London.
On Sunday, the Bidens will join King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, as well as other royalty and world leaders at a reception at Buckingham Palace.
Despite receiving an invitation to the event, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle will not be present. Palace in a statement to the People stressed the assembly is “for working members of the royal family.”
With News Wire services
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