The queen will soon lie in state in Westminster Hall. These are the first people in the line.

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LONDON – Across the River Thames, over a bridge, around a corner, a few steps down, in the incessant rain of London, Vanessa Nathkumaran waiting to see the Queen.

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She is hoping to be the first.

Nathkumaran, seen from Harrow, in north-west London, on a section of walkway south of Lambeth Bridge – directly in front Westminster HallWhere the body of the queen will lie from Wednesday night – Monday before her last rites.


She is among a small group of members of the public who, more than 48 hours before the Queen’s coffin, were due to rest on a raised platform, known as the Catafalque, inside Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament. Standing in line here to see.

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Nathkumaran, 56, humbly defending his No. 1 spot on Tuesday, said, “I had actually planned to come here on Wednesday morning, but I was passing by and I saw all the blocked roads and the security guards and I stopped the bus.” decided to.” in the queue.

Four people were behind him around Tuesday afternoon.

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British officials are preparing to fly among millions to London to pay tribute to the late monarch, who died last week. His coffin will be kept at Westminster Hall until the morning of 19 September, the day of his funeral.

Officials have warned that the line is expected to be long.

“You will need to stand for several hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit, as the queue will continue to go on,” the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement. An uncomfortable wait.

The line begins between a small coffee shop overlooking the River Thames and several portable toilets, about half a mile from Westminster Hall.

Above the river the Houses of Parliament provide a backdrop.

Security personnel monitoring the area said that when the Queen begins recumbent on Wednesday, those in the queue will be taken to Westminster Hall.

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Vanessa Nathkumaran, from left, Anne and Grace Gotthard are the first three people in line to enter Westminster Hall to see Queen Elizabeth lying in state.

Nathkumaran, who works for a financial services company, said she brought extra clothes and warm blankets, and energy bars when she was hungry:

“My kids said, ‘Mom, are you sure you’re going to make it the whole time?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m determined. I won’t lose my place.'”

Nathkumaran, who grew up in Sri Lanka but moved to the UK to study in the 1980s, said she has been “admiring” the queen since she was 10 years old. Nathkumaran said that his enthusiasm for the queen increased when Nathkumaran learned that his great uncle had been knighted. King George VI.

Behind Nathkumaran in line on Tuesday afternoon was Grace Gotthard, whom USA TODAY first encountered during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018; a woman from Wales who only wanted to be recognized as “Anne”; Delroy Morrison, originally from Jamaica; And another person who didn’t want to be associated with the media.

Three of the first five people in line were from former British colonies: Sri Lanka, Ghana and Jamaica, which declared independence from the British Empire in 1948, 1957 and 1962, respectively. The British Empire once spread all over the world. Many in the former Kingdom of Britain had mixed reactions to the death of the Queen.

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When it started to rain, a small gazebo was put up to give some shelter to the mourners.

“Last night was like noisy,” said Gotthard of Mitchum in south London.

“The buses lasted a long time.”

Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Gotthard wore a Union Jack flag around her neck. Occasionally, she would carry a small cardboard cutout of the Queen, and a jar of marmalade, a reference to the fictional character Paddington Bear, who has a long association with the Queen.

Neither Nathkumaran nor Gotthard had a tent or a sleeping bag.

Delroy Morrison, fourth in line to enter Westminster Hall, shows Queen Elizabeth the tunic she will wear, to see her lying in state.

Neither did Morrison, who said he had come to the UK from Jamaica in 1975. He was 14 years old.

“It’s important for me to be respected here,” he said.

“He made a great sacrifice for all of us, he brought people together, tried to make us happy.”

Morrison, who is 61 and lives in north London, said his health was “not very good”, especially his back and knees. But he was determined not to miss, which is why he joined the line so early. He said that on Wednesday, he would wear what he called the “traditional African tunic”, a garment he also wore to his brother’s wedding.

He brought firecrackers to sustain himself.

“I just want to say, thank you, ma’am,” he said.

“It’s the last thing I can do for my queen.”

Contribution: Jane Onyanga-Omar

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