Queen Elizabeth II death: Mourners describe ‘emotional’ experience at St Giles' Cathedral, saying ‘I want to queue up and go again’
They came in their thousands throughout the night and into the morning – some filing into St Giles’ Cathedral after queuing for five hours in the cold, others fresh from finishing a 12-hour nightshift or arriving while on honeymoon.
And when it was confirmed the queue had officially closed around 12:15pm on Tuesday, there were well-wishers who would have been happy to wait all over again to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II before her body’s departure from Edinburgh.
Lines up to two miles long snaked around the Meadows late on Monday night, with some people queuing until the early hours. By 7am the lines had cleared, with people reporting waiting times of as little as half an hour – until mourners began to flock to the Old Town once more around 9am.
Those lucky enough to have made it inside the cathedral described the experience as “emotional”.
Support worker Bethany Walker joined the queue after a 12-hour nightshift.
After finishing work at 8am on Tuesday, the 23-year-old made her way down for the “historic event”.
She said: “I managed to get some sleep. It was a sleepover shift.
“It’s a historic event and we just wanted to be there. It’s part of the history books.”
Anke Kietz, from Edinburgh, stopped to pay her respects after dropping her daughter at school.
"It was really nice and quiet, but feels very quick when you are inside – I feel like I want to queue up and go there again,” she said. “I’m really glad to have done it, it feels like such a big event.
"I am grateful that we have had a chance to grieve and to say goodbye. I don’t usually follow the royal family very closely, but I have so much respect for her and what she has done, not just for this country, but for countries around the world. It is amazing how countries everywhere have so much respect for her, not just because she’s the Queen, but because of how she has been Queen.”
People were in good spirits thanks to the glorious weather as they waited patiently to enter the cathedral in the queue that stretched as far back as Melville Drive in Newington.
Sam MacEwan, from Livingston, said: "It was quite emotional for me. I was lucky enough to see the Changing of the Guard. I’m a scout and the Queen is very important to us, we make a pledge to serve God and the Queen. I was on my way back from London when I heard the Queen had died and I knew I had to pay my respects in Edinburgh.”
Michele Michie got up early to catch a 6am train to Edinburgh from Helensburgh.
"I just wanted to pay my respects,” she said. “She’ll be gone today and this was the last chance. I was going to come last night, but I saw how long the queues were, I didn’t know what to do.”
Julia Monelle, from Edinburgh, was queuing to enter St Giles with her ten-year-old twins Millie and Grace.
“I couldn’t not come,” she said. “It is an historic occasion, especially for the kids. When they’re much older, they will know that this happened and that they were there. It doesn’t matter to them so much now, but it will then.
"We went down to the Meadows [on Monday night] and saw the queues were snaking up and down the paths, so went home. This morning has been very quick. We came down not expecting to be able to get in, we were going to wait to see the cortege later, but we were lucky.”
Graham Lyle travelled to St Giles from Dalkeith.
"My father is 95 today and he can’t make it, so I am partly representing him,” he said. “I am here out of respect for the Queen and everything she has done over the past 70 years.”
French tourist Thierry, 54, and his daughter Jennifer, 31, were on holiday in Aberfeldy and made their way to Edinburgh when they heard they would be able to see the Queen’s coffin.
They had been waiting to get into St Giles’ Cathedral for only around 45 minutes.
“We are fascinated because we don’t have this in France, it’s really different,” he said.
“I think the Queen is really special. She means respect. She was a lady, she was strong.”
However, newlyweds Steven and Elizabeth McCrite, from Orlando in Florida, who had arrived in the Scottish capital on Monday for their honeymoon, had initially been confronted with a sense of disappointment.
“We had planned this for months,” Mr McCrite said.
“At first we were disappointed. It’s unfortunate what happened.”
Mrs McCrite said: “All the things we were going to do have been closed: Edinburgh Castle was closed, St Giles’ is closed.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, we’re not going to be able to do it again.”
Mr McCrite said he thought the event would be on a par with a current president dying in the US.
Also in the queue on Tuesday was Duncan Wilson Paisley, of Westerlea, who had come from Stirlingshire to pay his respects to the Queen. He wore full Highland dress, representing the wider Clan Paisley.
“We’ve come down to pay our respects and represent the wider family,” he said.
Mr Wilson Paisley served in the Royal Highlanders for 25 years and said he felt a particular “gratitude” to the Queen.
“She was a wonderful lady for whom everybody has the utmost respect,” he said.
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