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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Queuing up for a place in history
Sam, Liam and Fiona Fell
The Fells came to pay their tribute
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By BBC News Online's Ben Davies

It is a truly British event. An orderly queue that stretches for hundreds of yards as people line up to say goodbye to the Queen Mother.

In doing so some felt they were becoming part of history, others simply wanted to pay their own "little tribute".

Lots of people dream of being a Queen so it must be very important

Katie Gunning
There was no extravagant outpouring of grief as there had been when Princess Diana died.

In fact there was something of the "day out" about this crowd - helped in no small part by the weather.

For two hours we filed up the river on the south side, across Lambeth bridge and on down into Westminster Hall.

Some stopped to lay flowers; others added their messages to books of remembrance.

As the queue drew near its destination a policeman stood holding a sign saying, "You're nearly there". His colleague's sign read, "Don't believe him".

But by the time people entered Parliament through the St Stephen's entrance, the relaxed chatter and jovial atmosphere had become a respectful silence.

Everyone in the queue seemed to have their own explanation for the sheer volume of people who have turned out.

Lou Myers
Mr Myers fought in the Second World War
Lou Myers from Westminster fought in World War Two and felt that his generation had a special connection to the Queen Mother.

"This is Britain turning out - it just comes down to respect.

"This is one of the few times you get to feel proud these days."

Meanwhile Fiona Fell, who had brought her two sons from Redhill in Surrey, felt that as well as paying their respects the opportunity was educational for her sons.

It's like the end of an era. I might never see something like this again - it's historical

Shirley Woolford
"It's a mark of respect and it's history for the children to say they've queued up."

Youthful respect

Son Sam, 13, said that he had been dragged out of bed early to come into London.

While he said he felt no sense of affinity with the Queen Mother, he acknowledged what he was about to witness was an historical event.

Katie and Trish Gunning
The Gunnings travelled from Northumberland
Nine-year-old Liam said: "The Queen Mother was very important and we should respect her."

Australians Trish Gunning and daughter Katie, 12, had come from Northumberland - where they are currently living - to see the lying-in-state and to line the route the funeral procession will take on Tuesday.

Mrs Gunning, a Scot who married an Australian, said she was a "great Royalist" adding that the Queen Mother was the "lynchpin" of the Royal family.

At the end of the hall before disappearing out into the sunlight many stopped to get a final glimpse of the scene

Katie said: "It's very historic. She was a very important person as the Queen Mother and a lot of people dream of being a Queen so it must be very important."

Sian Barrett, 18, from New Ash Green, Kent said she had come to London out of respect for the Queen Mother, but also in the somewhat unrealistic hope of catching a glimpse of Prince William.

While Shirley Woolford from London said she had gone into work early just so that she could get away to pay her respects in Westminster Hall.


"It's like the end of an era. I might never see something like this again - it's historical.

"She was a very gracious lady."

Inside the hall, there was little outward display of emotion.

Shirley Woolford
Shirley Woolford: 'End of an era'
People patiently waited their turn to file past the coffin having had their first glimpse of it as they stood on the top of the steps where William Wallace once stood trial.

Then the crowd began to move forward on either side of the Queen Mother's coffin.

Some stopped and bowed. Others simply walked quietly by.

'Wonderful event'

At the end of the hall before disappearing out into the sunlight many stopped to get a final glimpse of the scene.

The coffin draped by the Queen Mother's colourful standard, the four Yeoman of the Guard and the hundreds of ordinary men, women and children paying their private tributes.

Among the many roles fulfilled by the Queen Mother in her lifetime was her presidency of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS).

The volunteers have been providing the thousands of mourners with refreshments as they queued around Westminster.

WRVS emergency services manager, Angela Currie, said the lying-in-state of the Queen Mother had "brought out the best in everyone.

"Everyone has been very appreciative that they have been able to take part in this wonderful national event," she said.

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