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Sombre crowds mourn outside Abbey

Thousands of people crowd the streets outside Westminster Abbey
Thousands of people crowd the streets outside Westminster Abbey  

LONDON, England -- Many of those paying their respects to the Queen Mother outside Westminster Abbey have described their sadness at her death.

Hushed crowds thronged the roads around Parliament Square following the funeral service held inside as it was broadcast to them via loudspeakers. (Full story)

World War II veteran and Londoner Harry Rudd, 74, summed up the feelings of many people across Britain, saying: "The Queen Mother was a unique person who we all loved very deeply.

"With her compassion, her sense of duty and also her sense of fun, she really encapsulated the essence of the British character of her time.

Queen Mother


"We are not just saying goodbye to her, we are also marking the end of an era in this country. For those of us who lived through the war, she was a source of strength and comfort during the hard times.

"The sun has now set on a period of British history the likes of which we will never see again."

There were also many younger faces among the crowds saying prayers and singing hymns along with the dignitaries inside the Abbey. (Readings and hymns)

Jennifer Turner, 33, from Sussex, had brought her two eight-year-old twin daughters, Michelle and Louise, to the capital to witness the occasion.

She said: "I think it's a very sad day, but at the same time I feel we should all feel grateful this woman was a part of our lives, and a very big part of the lives of my parents and relatives who I know adored her.

"I wanted my children to share today with me and the rest of the country. This is British history in the making. It's a very emotional day, very touching and humbling."

"It's history in the making -- something for the kids to tell their kids about," Sue West, 35, from Essex, said. (Amanpour, Quest: Britain's lament)

"She was a remarkable old lady. She spanned the century and it should be recognised," said West, who had camped out overnight along with her two young sons and their dog to get a good view of the day's events to honour the royal matriarch who died on Easter Saturday at the age of 101.

Min Lacey, 41, whose father was a Royal Air Force pilot who downed a German bomber during World War Two, said, "Lots of children brought here today will be talking about this for the rest of their lives."

"It's part of history. She lived an entire century," added Lacey, who had also camped out in the street in a sleeping bag.

Mourners camp on streets

Some mourners compared the Queen Mother's funeral with that of Princess Diana in 1997, saying the mood on Tuesday, while sad, was also a celebration of the old lady's remarkable life.

"There was a lot of sadness, shock and hysteria with Diana's funeral. The mood is very sombre here today. I think people are paying their respects for a job well done," said Nora Ford, from Bristol, a volunteer with first aid charity St. John Ambulance.

There were many overseas visitors among the crowds.

Maria Elefthery, an elderly Canadian living in London, said she had been at all the royal funerals and weddings since Winston Churchill died in 1965.

"It's history isn't it? It means a lot to be here. It is the one thing I believe that holds the nation together. It feels great that all of Britain can join here in celebrating someone who meant so much," Elefthery said.

Jacqueline Baker, a New Yorker who is studying in London, said: "I just felt I had to be here. I am living in Britain and I just want to show my respects."

An Iraqi Kurd, a 41-year-old asylum seeker who declined to be named, said: "I am from a war generation in Iraq. Our Kurdish nation needs a figure like her - strong, patriotic and courageous."

Some people had begun camping outside Westminster Abbey at the weekend.

Three were treated for hypothermia and ended up watching the service on television in hospital.

Other mourners went straight from witnessing the lying in state of the Queen Mother's coffin in Westminster Hall. All were there to witness the end of another chapter in Britain's royal history.

For four days the coffin lay in state while an estimated 200,000 people filed past to pay their respects.

They had queued for up to eight hours along the banks of the Thames for the chance to spend a few minutes passing silently by the coffin.


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