It was 3.30pm when Leigh, Thony and James arrived behind the queue on the Millennium Bridge to see the Queen lie in state.
None of them recognized as royalists however had totally different causes to come back.
We might by no means met however would spend the subsequent six hours attending to know one another very effectively.
Because the marshals got here previous us alongside the riverside we got vivid yellow wristbands, I might be the 4,251st particular person in line.
Building employee Leigh Cooling had traveled from Tadley in Hampshire and arrived with a small bag and a black cap.
“My nan and grandad served within the military and so I am coming for them at this time. I am not an enormous royalist however have an appreciation for what the queen has completed,” he informed me.
The environment was jolly, individuals had been laughing and chatting, and people passing by may not have guessed that everybody had gathered for a sombre event.
We might been warned that we might be ready for as much as 30 hours within the queue, though it did not seem like many individuals had been ready for an in a single day wait, with some sporting heels, shorts and fits.
“I wager we’ll be in earlier than midnight,” mentioned James Barber who stood behind me.
Watch the Queen mendacity in state
As we started shifting slowly, Leigh referred to as on one other man within the queue who had been sitting down, Thony Llaavye.
Because the 4 of us started to stroll in the direction of Westminster Leigh joked that we would be “the crew” and from then on, we appeared to stay collectively.
James, who lives in Bicester, mentioned he’d already had plans to be in London and determined to come back to “pay his respects”. “It is laborious to explain, I simply felt compelled to go,” he mentioned.
Tony did not have a lot curiosity within the Royal Household, however admired the Queen and needed to see her one final time.
Gin, lager and Wagamamas
It was nearly 5pm and the queue had stopped, we had been in Waterloo. Everybody was Tony’s telephone as he performed the dwell stream from inside Westminster Corridor.
“Will probably be a panoramic sight to see,” James mentioned.
A pause within the queue is probably one of many solely factors when you possibly can go to the bathroom or get one thing to eat, however there isn’t any formal system, you rely in your neighbor to avoid wasting your house.
As Leigh sipped on a pint of beer from a close-by stand, James returned with a rooster katsu curry from Wagamamas.
It wasn’t simply our crew that was fueling up, everybody began tucking into snacks they’d introduced of their luggage whereas others drank Pimms and cans of gin and tonic.
Down previous Large Ben and up in the direction of St Thomas’ Hospital we realized that it will be unlikely that we would be ready for various hours.
Though we knew the place we had been headed, individuals passing beside the queue regarded bewildered. Some maybe at size and others weren’t followers of the royals.
Safety tightened as queue zigzagged
Our conversations ranged from whether or not pineapple on pizza is appropriate, to the Ukraine conflict and our households.
As we approached the south facet of Lambeth Bridge our legs began to ache. It had solely taken us three hours to get from close to London Bridge all the best way to the sting of the gardens subsequent to the Palace of Westminster.
The safety tightened and the queues started to zig-zag, this was the longest half.
Though we quickly misplaced Thony on the portaloos, we managed to regroup within the gardens. It was not possible to gauge how many individuals had been behind us, however we had been now shuffling.
After passing by the airport-style safety checks beneath vivid flood lights, we knew we had been shut.
As we stepped inside Westminster Corridor the queue fell silent, it was the second everybody got here for.
We walked up a flight of stairs and as we entered the corridor, everybody’s shoulders appeared to drop ahead. It was not possible to overlook the coffin, grand, regal and raised on a platform.
The one noise got here from the guards shuffling as they modified over.
As we filed down in two strains, individuals curtseyed to the coffin, bowed their heads and wept. We left not more than 10 minutes after we arrived within the corridor.
“That was so definitely worth the wait,” Leigh mentioned as everybody nodded in settlement. “I simply do not have something to say,” Thony added. Everybody hugged earlier than dwelling and our final image was taken.
Though we might began as strangers that afternoon, we left with a reminiscence that solely our ‘crew’ will share.