Hundreds brave the rain and watch on big screens to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth

Umbrellas raised as Leeds, like other cities in UK, stood in silence for the national anthem to honour the monarch

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Determined to say "goodbye to our amazing queen", hundreds braved the rain 200 miles away as the state funeral in London was broadcast live in the northern English county of Yorkshire in honour of the late monarch.

As the rain poured, a sea of umbrellas covered Millennium Square in Leeds as Yorkshire united to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, whom many attending on Monday referred to as ‘the boss’.

Like other cities, such as Birmingham, Coventry, Exeter, Lincoln, Ipswich and Manchester, the funeral service was broadcast on a big screen and former military officers came to hold the Royal Standard with their heads bowed in solemn remembrance of the lady they had served for decades.

Paul Bradford, 80, joined the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in 1962 and had travelled from the neighbouring town of Morley, proudly displaying his medals.

“I wanted to come to pay my respects to the boss,” he told The National.

“I served her for years, she was an amazing woman.”

Strangers huddled together sharing umbrellas, watching as the queen’s coffin entered Westminster Abbey in London.

Tom Barr and Paul Bradford, 80, were in Leeds to watch a broadcast of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. Nicky Harley / The National

It was a poignant moment for George Barrett, 75, when during the service one bishop said "we have all lost loved ones".

“My sister died two days after the queen,” he said.

“I’ve travelled here from Kent on holiday and I couldn’t miss it. I feel like I’m laying both of them to rest.

“The queen was just a one off, the way she led this nation was purely and utterly amazing.”

People watch the funeral in the rain in Leeds. Nicky Harley / The National

Lorraine Skelton has just returned to Yorkshire from paying her respects to the queen laying in state in Westminster Hall.

“I watched them carry her coffin through London,” she said.

“I had to come today to watch the funeral, it didn’t seem right staying at home and watching it on the television.”

Floral tributes in Leeds. Nicky Harley / The National

Michelle Harrison, from Leeds, who came with her daughter, arrived early to get a seat.

“We’ve been queuing for hours and were the second to get a seat here to watch it,” she said.

“We brought a picnic. It’s a moment of history and we wanted to say goodbye to her surrounded by other people. We brought tissues as I knew it would be emotional.”

Retired teacher Nicholas Hewitt travelled from Bradford for the big screen gathering.

“I watched Winston Churchill’s funeral when I was young in 1965 on a black and white television,” he said. “I didn’t want to view the queen’s in the same way. It didn’t feel right sitting at home. She was the best of the best.”

David Malone and his partner Vanessa Appleyard watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on a big screen in Leeds. Nicky Harley / The National

Hospital employee David Malone said he had his partner Vanessa Appleyard were still in shock and felt they want to attend the funeral with others.

"We didn't care that it was raining," he said. "We wouldn't have missed it. The queen meant so much to us and she will be sadly missed. I couldn't get to Edinburgh but my family did. We couldn't get the time off to see her lying in state, so today was our chance to say goodbye."

Former RAF serviceman Matthew Ramsey came to hold the Standard outside Leeds Civic Hall and bowed his head as her coffin left the abbey in London.

“I came here because she was my boss, she was the chief,” he said. “We wanted to unite the local military here and give her a good send off.”

Final unseen portrait of the queen revealed before funeral - in pictures

Fighter jets flew overhead and gun salutes echoed through the city and as the national anthem played, the hundreds of people in the square standing in unity to honour the queen in silence.

“This is the most emotional part,” Thomas Smith, from Sheffield, said as The Last Post sounded.

When the coffin began its final journey to Windsor, the skies in Yorkshire cleared and the umbrellas were shaken dry, as everyone rose for a second time as the hearse drove away.

“I did shed a tear,” Catherine Arnold said. “I think most of us did. It was great to see such a turnout for her.

“It’s been emotional. We will never forget today, the day we said goodbye to our amazing queen.”

Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year reign - in pictures

Updated: September 22, 2022, 9:09 AM
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