Tearful royal mourners are paying their last respects to the Queen after the lying in state officially openEN
People began to file into Westminster Hall at 5pm with some breaking down in tears as they slowly processed past the late monarch’s coffin.
The mood was solemn as members of the public, mainly dressed in black, said a final farewell to the late Queen. One man wore a Union flag jacket in a display of patriotism as he bucked the trend of wearing black.
Many people were tearful, with one man burying his face in his hands. The silence was broken at times by the sound of sobs. Some bowed while others curtseyed as hundreds filed past.
Emotional well-wishers held hands or put an arm around a loved one to comfort each other. One woman who was being consoled by a companion said: “It’s just so sad.”
The ancient Westminster Hall was lit up by chandeliers, spotlights and candles as the coffin rested on a catafalque on a wide scarlet platform.
The late Queen’s coffin arrived to lie in state following a poignant procession from Buckingham Palace led by King Charles earlier today as well-wishers lined the streets of central London.
Thousands of people have been queuing since last night for a spot in a line to file past the coffin in Westminster Hall.
The late Queen’s coffin will lie in state for the next four days before the state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
The doors opened at 5pm, but by 2pm the line already stretched far past Westminster Bridge and beyond County Hall. At 5pm the queue was estimated to be almost three miles long reaching London Bridge.
It has the capacity to snake back 10 miles but there is no guarantee that everyone who joins will be able to say a personal farewell as demand is expected to be high.
It is understood that the queue may be closed early in a bid to avoid disappointment but it is not known when that might be.
Numbers will be monitored towards the end of the lying in state period, which must come to a close by 6.30am on September 19.
Entry to the line will also be paused for a time if the queue – which runs 6.9 miles from Victoria Tower Gardens to Southwark Park, with a further three miles within the park itself – reaches capacity.
Joyce Dawson, 54, from Middlesbrough, has never visited London before but said she was “inspired” to travel down for the Queen’s lying in state after seeing the first people in the queue being interviewed on TV on Tuesday evening.
She said: “I texted my daughter and said: ‘We have to go to London tonight’, so we’re here. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”
She and her daughter Shelby, 26, who has also never been to the capital before, got on the midnight coach from Middlesbrough and joined the queue at about 8am on Wednesday.
Ms Dawson added: “It’s just nice to be a part of this. It’s exciting, I’m dead excited, I’m like a little kid.”
Kush Sonigra, who lives in the London area, was spending his 24th birthday in line.
He said: “Well, fortunately, from work I get the day off for my birthday, so I thought I’d get involved and see what the hype is about, get involved with the event.
“There’s a family dinner table so I’m hoping, depending on how late I finish here, I might be able to make it for that. Otherwise, we will postpone that to the weekend.”
There will be more than 1,000 volunteers, stewards, marshals and police officers on hand.
People in the queue are being given a coloured and numbered wristband which allows them to leave for a brief time before returning to their spot.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is running a live queue tracker to pinpoint the end of the line.
It comes after the Queen was handed to the nation for a period of lying in state after members of the Royal Family made a solemn procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall which began at 2.22pm on Wednesday.
Huge crowds lined the route in central London in the bright weather, with many well-wishers in tears.
A gun carriage that had borne the coffins of her mother and father carried the late monarch, while funeral marches were played by military bands.
The King led royals as they walked behind the coffin, draped with a Royal Standard and adorned with the Imperial State Crown, and pulled on a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
The brothers, who have had a fractured relationship in recent years, put on a show of unity in their grief for their grandmother.
Princess Anne’s husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin, and her nephew the Earl of Snowdown also walked in the procession.
Queen Consort Camilla, Kate, Meghan Markle and the Countess of Wessex followed in cars behind.
Wider members of the Royal Family attended Westminster Hall, where the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby led a short service.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “God, the maker and redeemer of all mankind: grant us, with thy servant Queen Elizabeth, and all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection; that in the last day, when all things are gathered up in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of thy promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”