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Mourners queue overnight to pay their respects to Queen

The first members of the public pay their respects as the vigil began around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral on Monday. Photo by Yui Mok/PA

By Rebecca Speare-Cole, PA, and Chronicle staff

Thousands of mourners queued overnight in London for the Queen’s lying in state.

Members of the public can pay their respects to the late monarch’s coffin for 24 hours a day at Westminster Hall, with queues along Lambeth Bridge and Albert Embankment continuing to flow all night.

The Queen’s coffin continues to be guarded at all hours by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.

One of the guards suddenly collapsed overnight, with nearby officials quickly rushing to his aid after he appeared to faint.

Metropolitan Police officers, volunteers and stewards are managing the queue while toilets and water fountains are provided at various points along the route.

Among the officers helping to manage the queues were six Royal Gibraltar Police offices who travelled to London to assist their Met colleagues.

The included PC Anabell Santos [below] who patrolled the banks of the Thames, where the queue stretched for miles.

People waiting in line are being given a coloured and numbered wristband to manage the queue.

Last night was the first night people could pay their respects to the Queen after the ancient hall opened at 5pm on Wednesday.

At 2.30am on Thursday the queue was almost three miles long and stretched to London Bridge.

On Wednesday afternoon, the King led the royal family in a public display of homage by walking behind the Queen’s coffin during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where it will lie in state until the state funeral on Monday.

Thousands of mourners flocked to see the moving sight of the Queen departing the official residence where she spent so much of her working life at the heart of the nation, with viewing areas declared full ahead of the procession starting.

Among them was 31-year old Gibraltarian Nicholas Pitto, a doctor who works in Kent and travelled to London with a friend for the occasion and watched the procession.

“I felt duty-bound and compelled to go, to show my respects and that we’re saddened by her public,” he told the Chronicle.

“She represented a constant in British life and British identity, knowing that as all the years go by and despite all the troubles, she was always there.”

“I didn’t think I’d be moved when the moment came, but I was.”

And he added: “The procession was very solemn, respectful and dignified.”

“It felt appropriate, it felt like everyone cared.”

“It was very dignified in a way that I think only the British can do.”

King Charles returned to his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire on Wednesday evening.

He will have a private day of reflection on Thursday and is not expected to attend any public events.

In the detailed planning for the aftermath of the Queen’s death – known as “London Bridge” – a day was set aside at this point for the new monarch to have some time away from public duties.

The period will allow the King to pause, but it is understood he will be working in preparation for his new role and will already be receiving his red boxes of state papers.

Elsewhere, King’s Counsel will take part in wreath laying after the death of the Queen.

Senior barristers, now known as KCs instead of QCs after the proclamation of the King, have been invited to dress in robes and court mourning attire.

They will then gather outside the Old Bailey before walking to Gray’s Inn Chapel for the ceremony.

The Princess Royal, accompanied by her husband Sir Tim Laurence, will visit Glasgow City Chambers to meet representatives of organisations of which the Queen was patron.

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