The Guardian

'Worth the wait': queueing begins for chance to pay respects to the Queen

The Guardian logo The Guardian 13.09.2022 00:51:45 Geneva Abdul
Photograph: Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA

Vanessa Nanthakumaran never expected to be first in line of the hundreds of thousands of people expected to queue in London in the coming days for the Queen's lying in state at Westminster Hall.

At 11.30am, Nanthakumaran, 56, was walking past the Houses of Parliament when she learned that the line would start riverside, just south of Lambeth Bridge.

For now, she is one of the people queueing overnight to be the first to pay their respects to the Queen as her coffin lies in state inside the parliamentary grounds.

On Wednesday, when she had originally planned on attending, Nanthakumaran intends on paying her respects and thanking the Queen for her service. "But it's worth the wait," she said.

The Queen's coffin will remain in Westminster Hall from Wednesday morning until the day of the funeral, next Monday. A member of security said they were expecting between 750,000 and 1 million people to queue to attend.

On Monday, the streets surrounding Westminster Hall were dotted with police and security staff in neon vests. The nearby Victoria Tower Gardens was full with stacked safety barriers and portable toilets in preparation for the queues expected to stretch for miles.

Nanthakumaran, who lives in London and is from Sri Lanka, said the Queen had done a great service for the country, internationally, and for the Commonwealth. She said her great-uncle was knighted by King George VI and was invited to attend the king's coronation before Sri Lanka's independence.

"For their service, it is sort of like payback," she said. "Whatever they did for the Commonwealth, we have to appreciate what they did, and for the independence they eventually gave back when Sri Lanka wanted the rights back.

"In that way we have to be grateful," she said, with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben behind her. "I've never been faulting the royals at all."

For the overnight stay, she was dressed in denim and a rain jacket and had a plastic bag packed with snacks and water. Her daughters were due to come with more supplies. "They first said 'are you sure you're going to be OK, it's going to be a couple of nights'," laughed Nanthakumaran.

There were a couple of toilets there, she nodded reassuringly towards portable loos steps away.

Nanthakumaran was prepared, in part, having lined up for hours for Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral decades prior. From Wednesday, members of the public will be able to file past the coffin 24 hours a day.

"That was from morning until late afternoon, this is a bit longer, but I'm sure I can," she added hesitantly of camping out overnight. "I have to now," she laughed.

mardi 13 septembre 2022 03:51:45 Categories: The Guardian

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