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Queen 'touched' by public response

LONDON, England -- Queen Elizabeth II has been "very touched" by the huge queue that is winding its way through central London as thousands of people wait to paying their last respects to her mother.

As up to 50,000 people continued to queue for up to seven hours to see the Queen Mother's lying-in-state at Westminster Hall, Buckingham Palace expressed the Queen's gratitude.

A palace spokeswoman said: "The Queen has been very touched that so many people are paying their respects.

"This is a very rare occasion and it has been difficult to estimate the public response."

Queen Mother


Late on Saturday, officials announced that Westminster Hall is being kept open overnight for the second consecutive night to accommodate the massive swell of people wishing to pay their respects.

Throughout the day, tens of thousands of mourners poured into London to pay their respects to the Queen Mother who died last Saturday aged 101.

The queue snaked an estimated three miles and stretched to both sides of the River Thames.

Among those who vsitied the hall was veteran British actor Sir John Mills, 94, who paused in front of the catafalque bearing the coffin draped in the Queen Mother's Standard and bowed his head for several seconds.

To accommodate as many mourners as possible the 11th century Westminster Hall will remain open around the clock, except between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., (0500 and 0700 GMT) until Monday evening when final preparations for Tuesday's funeral at Westminster Abbey will be made.

First in the queue on Saturday was Liz Fisher, a nanny, from west London.

She told the Press Association: "I came here to pay my respects yesterday but the queue was too long. I knew that if I came back today I would be able to get in, living so close."

Asked why she felt the need to come to Westminster, she added: "My father got the MBE from her (the Queen Mother) at Buckingham Palace. I like the Royal Family and she was a grand old lady."

Peggy Unsworth 58, from Winchester, Hampshire, waited for several hours to get into the Westminster Hall.

She said afterwards: "I'm just overwhelmed, it's simply breathtaking in there.

"I came because of how I felt about the Royal Family and the Queen Mother she was a very special member of that family.

"This is certainly a wonderful tribute to a special woman. She lived to a fantastic age and will be very fondly remembered by so many people."

One simple bouquet placed outside Westminster Hall captured something of the bond between the Queen Mother and her public.

Attached to a simple bunch of flowers, the note read: "From one grandmother to another, you leave a big gap in your family and in ours. Never to be replaced, love and miss you always. Love from your home town."

As the tide of people flooded into Westminster, details were revealed of Tuesday's funeral service.

Among the guests is expected to be Camilla Parker Bowles, the Prince of Wales's partner and a friend of the Queen Mother.

The palace spokeswoman said: "She knew the Queen Mother well over the years and it is therefore appropriate that she should come."

There will be 25 foreign royals at the service, including Prince Albert of Monaco, the King and Queen of Norway, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, the King of Sweden, and the Sultan of Brunei.

Before the service begins, the tenor bell at Westminster Abbey will toll every minute for 101 minutes, and the Queen Mother's coffin will be piped in to the Abbey by 128 pipers and 64 drummers, from 13 regiments.

There will be a ceremonial fly-past by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight after the funeral.

After the service in Westminster Abbey there will be a private committal service and interment in the George VI Memorial Chapel within St George's Chapel at Windsor.


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