‘You could hear a pin drop’: Mourners who queued overnight describe ‘serenity’ in Westminster Hall where Queen lies in state

The queue on the South Bank near to Tower Bridge (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
The queue on the South Bank near to Tower Bridge (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Mourners who queued for eight hours overnight to pay their respects to the Queen have described the “breath-taking” serenity in Westminster Hall, saying “you could hear a pin drop”.

People have travelled from all over the country and waited since 1am for the chance to view the Queen lying in state.

Three well-wishers who befriended each other in the queue said there had been a friendly “camaraderie” among the crowds, despite miserable weather, before an atmosphere of sombre reflection inside the hall.

Amy Harris, 34, and Matthew Edwards, 35, met James Cross, 65, after getting the train to London from Birmingham to join the queue at about 1am.

Mr Cross said: “Everyone in the queue was very friendly, chatting and having a laugh. It was really quite lovely.”

Queen Elizabeth II lying in state in the Palace of Westminster Hall (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II lying in state in the Palace of Westminster Hall (Getty Images)

Mr Edwards said: “Everyone was offering biscuits, drinks,” adding that the three were now planning to have a pint together after the long wait.

The atmosphere in Westminster Hall was “breath-taking,” Ms Harris said.

“When you’re able to go in and have a moment to look at it and reflect, the serenity of it – to be able to pay your respects in such a serene place, it’s very peaceful.”

“It’s just like the only person that’s there is you,” Mr Cross said. “You walk in and you could hear a pin drop.”

Father Peter Walters, a priest who works in Colombia, and Pauline Allan, a charity worker, joined the queue at 1.20am.

It was “immensely” worth the wait, Father Walters said, with the final experience “very personal” and different from viewing the coffin on the TV.

“The atmosphere in there was one of absolute silence, great reverence, great respect and great reflection. It was really a very memorable experience.

“Everyone had the chance to pause – despite the queues, there was no great sense of rush.”

“We had a good five minutes from entering to leaving, it was so slow and dignified,” Ms Allan added.

The coffin, which sits on a catafalque and is draped with a Royal Standard, 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.

Father Walters praised the “courteous” behaviour of staff and police inside the ancient hall, who he described as “very professional” and helpful to mourners.

Inside there is a “steady flow” of visitors, but everyone has an opportunity to stand in front of the coffin, he said.

By 10am on Thursday, the queue was about three miles long and stretched past London Bridge to HMS Belfast.

Published by anthonyhayble

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