The first of the estimated one million mourners expected to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth as she lies in state was a royal superfan who had camped out for more than 48 hours.
Vanessa Nathakumaran, 56, an administrative assistant from Harrow in north west London, said she had to fight to control her emotions when she saw Her Majesty’s casket.
She told MailOnline on Wednesday (14.09.22) after 5pm, when the public were allowed to start filing past the monarch’s coffin in Westminster Hall: “I was trying not to cry. I wanted to pay my respects in a dignified way but it was so hard. There were such mixed emotions. It was a privilege to be here but it was so sad and solemn. It was a moment that will live with me forever.
“It was the most memorable and unique moment of my life. It was so quiet and peaceful and seeing her coffin it really came home to me that she is really gone. I curtsied when I went past and my eye was drawn to the crown on top of the coffin. I feel down wined and shattered.”
Ms Nathakumaran added she was also at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.
She said about waiting much longer to see the Queen’s coffin: “I camped out for two days sleeping on a bench and in the pouring rain but it was worth it. I wanted to be part of the experience and pay my respects.‘
Also among the first to see the monarch lying in state was Annie Daley, who told MailOnline on Wednesday evening she felt “sorrowful” and branded it a “shattering” experience.
She added: “The Crown was gleaming atop the coffin, as was the orb and sceptre.
“When we approached the coffin, everyone was silent, it was so, so quiet. I looked round and the Yeoman guards were like statues.
“We waited for days and when it came to it the whole experience was over in seconds, we went round the coffin once and down the stairs.”
Third in the already three-mile-long queue to see the Queen was Annie’s friend Grace Gothard, who had also waited since Monday. (12.09.22)
She said: “It was very sad, it reminded me of when my own mother died.
“I was taken aback to see the Queen lying in state, even though we’d been waiting three days to do so. May she rest in peace.”
Crowds were heard singing hymns as they began their wait to file past the Queen’s coffin after it arrived at Westminster Hall in a royal procession at 3pm.
The queue to see the casket – made of English oak, lined with lead and designed for the late Queen 30 years ago – is stretching along the banks of the Thames to London Bridge.
Crowds are expected to keep queueing through the night for the four days the Queen will lie in state after her death aged 96 at her home in Balmoral on September 8.
Up to a million people are expected to queue for chance to see the Queen at rest.
Government advice has been issued to those enduring marathon waits that could last more than 31 hours includes stock up on snacks, make friends with a “bathroom buddy” and to keep warm as autumn begins.