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Westminster: Hall of history

Westminster Hall has been a place of mourning and tragedy  

LONDON, England -- The medieval hall where the Queen Mother is lying in state has a history of royal mourning as well as treachery.

Westminster Hall, where the coffin of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, is resting on a purple-draped catafalque, is steeped in sadness and tragedy.

It is where a succession of royals have lain in state. Brass plaques mark the spot where Edward VII lay in state in 1910, George V in 1936, George VI in 1952 and Queen Mary a year later.

It is also where wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill lay in state in 1965.

But it is also a place of brutal tragedy for the royals.

Queen Mother


It was here where 17th century King Charles I was put on trial before being beheaded -- his fate sealed by Oliver Cromwell.

And it's where Roman Catholic plotter Guy Fawkes was tried in 1606 for trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament next door.

Windsor burial

Religion has played a key part in the magnificent hall's history too.

Henry VIII's lord chancellor, Sir Thomas More, the "Man For All Seasons" who put his Catholic faith before loyalty to the crown, was executed for treason after his state trial in Westminster Hall.

Twice in its turbulent 900-year history, Westminster Hall has escaped destruction.

The rest of the Palace of Westminster was razed to the ground in 1834 after a stove overheated.

In World War II, German bombers dropped a dozen bombs on the adjoining House of Commons chamber in 1941.

The Queen Mother's coffin will lie in state until Tuesday, when it will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for a funeral service.

Beneath the hammer-shaped oak beams, thousands of mourners are expected to file past the coffin to pay their respects.

The Queen Mother died at Windsor Lodge, London, on Easter Saturday at the age of 101.

Her four grandsons -- Princes Charles, Andrew, Edward and Viscount David Linley -- are to stage one of the vigils on the eve of her funeral.

She is to be buried at Windsor Castle alongside her husband.


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