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Queen’s funeral: I feel privileged, says final lying-in-state mourner

The last person to view Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state says it was “a real privilege” to pay her respects.

Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray, said it was “one of the highlights of my life”.

Hundreds of thousands of people queued to file past the Queen’s coffin, with the final mourners leaving just after 06:30 BST.

At 10:44 the coffin will be taken in a procession to nearby Westminster Abbey for the state funeral.

The doors of the Abbey will be opened for guests to start arriving at 08:00, ahead of the service at 11:00.

The lying-in-state lasted for four-and-a-half days.

The queue closed shortly after 22:40 on Sunday but anyone already waiting with a wristband was assured they would be admitted.

At its peak, people were waiting for more than 24 hours in a long line that snaked through central London for almost seven miles (11.2km), ending in a three-mile zigzag in Southwark Park.

Ms Heerey, who was viewing the lying-in-state for the second time, said: “I was the last person to pay my respects to the Queen and it felt like a real privilege to do that.”

“It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here,” she said.

Mother and daughter Christine and Sarah Rogers, who had travelled from Woodbridge in Suffolk, were the final two people to be handed wristbands to join the queue.

The crowds behind them burst into applause as they were told they would be the last people allowed to enter Westminster Hall.

Sarah said: “It means a lot to come and pay our respects, because she’s been a constant in my life. To just go there and say thank you… it means a lot.”

As the lying-in-state drew to a close on Monday morning, members of parliamentary staff followed the final mourners, with Black Rod Sarah Clarke, a senior officer in the House of Lords, being the last to walk past the coffin.

Black Rod walks through a near empty Westminster Hall at the end of the Queen's lying-in-stateIMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA
Image caption,

Black Rod walks through a near empty Westminster Hall at the end of the Queen’s lying-in-state

Earlier, several hundred people were turned away from the queue, including Vidur and Natasha Pabari from Chigwell.

Vidur said it was “heartbreaking” to miss out, while Natasha said: “We will have to pay our respects another way.”

On Sunday, organisers had urged people not to travel to avoid disappointment in case they missed the cut-off time, before announcing the queue was closed.

“Thank you to everyone who has observed Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State which has now ended,” the culture department said.

The number of people to view the Queen’s lying-in-state is yet to be announced.

Around 2,000 people are expected to attend the state funeral at Westminster Abbey, including 500 presidents, prime ministers, and foreign royals from around the world.

King Charles will walk behind his mother’s coffin in a procession from the Palace of Westminster, alongside the monarch’s other children, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex.

Behind them will be the Queen’s grandsons, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex and Peter Phillips. Prince George and Princess Charlotte will also attend the Queen’s funeral.

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