Queen Elizabeth II death: King and Prince of Wales greet mourners in queue

It was a wholly unexpected surprise to cheer a cold afternoon for mourners queuing on the banks of the Thames for the Queen’s lying in state.

Hundreds of people in line at Lambeth, south London, cheered and applauded as King Charles III and the Prince of Wales emerged on Saturday afternoon.

The royal pair thanked those waiting to pay their respects to the late monarch at Westminster Hall, those who had remained undeterred and prepared to wait “as long as it takes”.

One woman offered the King condolences as he shook her hand, and another shouted: “I can’t believe this.”

King Charles III meets members of the public in the queue along the South Bank, near to Lambeth Bridge, London, as they wait to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday. Picture: PA

Dozens shouted “hip hip hooray” as Charles and William moved down the line, stopping for a few moments with each person.

Several people called their friends and relatives on the phone to tell them what they had just witnessed.

Others also shouted “God save the King” and “God save the Prince of Wales” as each passed.

William could be heard discussing how long people had waited and whether they were able to keep warm.

Several people cried after meeting him, and one woman told him: “You’ll be a brilliant king one day.”

Charles left before William, both of them in cars surrounded by police vehicles.

Meanwhile, the queue for the lying in state began to grow in Southwark Park, with a steady stream of mourners continuing to join the end of the line.

The sign at the mouth of the queue told mourners it would be a 14-hour wait minimum, which was generally greeted by relief by well-wishers, with one group cheering as they walked past.

It came after the King thanked emergency service staff for their work during the mourning period.

Charles met London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and was briefed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors and Commander Karen Findlay, who are leading police operations around London ahead of and during the funeral of the Queen.

Home secretary Suella Braverman and mayor of London Sadiq Khan were also present.

Early on Saturday morning, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s queue tracker warned people not to travel to join the back of the lying in state queue.

It changed the guidance at 8am, saying the line had reached Southwark Park with wait times “at least 24 hours”.

Although it was a very bright morning in central London, temperatures remained cool, particularly in the shade, at around 12C.

Alfie, 11, from Lancashire, wore his Scouts uniform complete with Platinum Jubilee badge, to join the queue for the lying in state.

His grandmother, Karen Todd, said: “Alfie really wanted to pay his respects to the Queen, and he wanted to come in his Scout uniform to honour her.

“And we came because it’s a momentous occasion and a moment in history. They’ll always remember this for the rest of their lives, so we’ve only got this one opportunity.”

Claire Smart, 47, who had come to the capital from Teesside, said she had travelled to “pay my respects and to apologise for all the times as a little girl I rolled my eyes having to listen to the Queen”.

She went on: “I always wanted to curtsy in front of the Queen when she was alive, and sort of felt it was important to come and do it now.”

When asked whether she was put off by the predicted waiting times when she set off at 4:45am, Ms Smart replied: “I just thought I’ll regret not trying.”

Linda Partridge, 71, and Simon Hopkins, 59, travelled from the West Midlands for the lying in state because they felt “that need to come down”.

Ms Partridge, who left home at 3am to make the journey, said: “Even though they said it was closed I felt that need to come down.

“If we’ve got here and then they turned away, then fine. I would have just felt I needed to come and then be told I couldn’t go.”

Mr Hopkins said: “There was a sense of perhaps best not travel, but just to make the journey and just to check it out, and you know, if it ended in disappointment, then so be it.”

Shiv Pandian, 58, from Raynes Park, south-west London, said his 30 years working as a urologist for the NHS had prepared him for a long wait.

“There’s lots of places to eat and toilets and things; you’re used to working long hours at the NHS,” he said, laughing.

“The Queen has served us for 70 years. I’ve served along with her for 30 years. I’ve seen three jubilees of hers, and I want to say goodbye.”


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