Queen’s lying in state ends with last mourner going around twice

Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray, was the last person to leave Westminster Hall

Members of the public pay their respects at 4.57am, shortly before the lying in state ended, as they view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall. AFP
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The last member of the public to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II did so early on Monday, before the start of the state funeral in Westminster Abbey.

Doors to Westminster Hall closed at 6.30am, finally bringing an end to the queue in which thousands of people lined up, some for up 24 hours, to file past the queen lying in state.

Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray, was the last person to leave the hall.

She said the experience was “one of the highlights” of her life.

"I was the last person to pay my respects to the queen and it felt like a real privilege to do that,” she said.

She said she was able to go around twice, after officials closed the queue, no longer allowing anyone to join, at 10.40pm on Sunday.

"I'd already been round once, I went in at 1.15am this morning,” she said. "Because it just went so quick and it was such an amazing experience, I just felt I didn't do the queen justice so I wanted to go around again. I joined the end of the queue and remained at the end of the queue as I certainly didn't want to take the spot of someone else wanting to go in before me.

"It's one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here."

The second-last person to see the queen lying in state was Sima Mansouri, 55, originally from Iran, who lives in South Croydon, London.

She said her love for the queen dated back to the 1970s, when her cousin was a flower girl for a royal visit in Tehran.

Ms Mansouri said: "It was a boiling hot day and my poor cousin has got very fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.

"The queen came out of her plane and was more concerned with my cousin burning in the sun than being a royal.

"She said, 'Can someone please get this little girl out of the sun?' Then she kissed her and grabbed the flowers.

"I thought it was amazing."

Meanwhile, some were left disappointed, after queueing for hours through the night in London without wristbands.

Albert, who joined the queue at 10pm, was one of those not allowed into Westminster.

He said the government's official live feed was not kept up to date with information that no more wristbands would be given out.

"The communication has been terrible," he said, after having queued in central London for more than six hours.

"There were loads of people who joined the official queue based on the website, but never received wristbands.

"And in the queue they didn't give us any information — just to be disrespectful to us when we got here [Lambeth Bridge] in the end."

Thousands of people continued to stream into the capital early on Monday for the chance to see the state funeral, with many tube lines busy.

But some journeys were disrupted by damage to overhead electric wires, which blocked all railway lines between Slough and Paddington, affecting people travelling from Reading or Heathrow Airport.

The queen’s coffin will remain in the hall for several hours before being transferred to Westminster Abbey for the funeral later on Monday for the service, which will begin at 11am.

The doors to the abbey opened at 8am. Around 2,000 quests are expected to attend the service, including charity workers and world leaders.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 8:13 AM