A live monitor of the queue to enter historic Westminster Hall said it was “at capacity” and access was “suspended” for six hours as waiting times reached 14 hours and the line stretched 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Parliament to Southwark Park in south London and then around the park. There was even an informal queue of people waiting to get into the official one.
King Charles III and his siblings will stand vigil around the flag-draped coffin on Friday night.
Beckham was spotted in a line of mourners near the Houses of Parliament around noon on Friday. He is believed to have joined the queue at 2am and queued for more than 10 hours with thousands of others.
Dressed in a white shirt and black tie, he bowed briefly before the coffin before exiting Westminster Hall.
He told British broadcaster ITV, “we can all see, with the love that has been shown, how special she is and how special she was and the legacy she leaves behind.”
“It’s a sad day, but it’s a day for us to remember the incredible legacy she leaves behind,” he added.
Helena Larsen, 76, arrived at the park a little too late.
“We literally got here and they’ve closed it in front of us,” she said, adding that she would likely hang out in the area until the gates were reopened.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said seeing the Queen’s coffin lying in state was an unforgettable experience.
“You’re in Westminster Hall in her presence, with a crown on top of her casket, and it’s incredibly emotional,” he told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Chinese officials was reportedly barred from visiting the historic hall of parliament where the queen’s coffin lies, as geopolitical issues cast a shadow over the solemn celebrations surrounding the king’s death.
China’s ambassador to Britain has been banned from parliament for a year after Beijing sanctioned seven British lawmakers last year for speaking out against China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority in the western Xinjiang region.
Speaker of the House Lindsay Hoyle’s office declined to comment on Friday about a report by US news outlet Politico that the Chinese delegation would not be allowed into Westminster Hall. Prime Minister Liz Truss’ office also declined to comment.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said she had not seen the Politico report but that as the host of the Queen’s funeral, the British government should “follow diplomatic protocol and proper etiquette to receive guests.”
A Chinese delegation is expected to attend the Queen’s funeral on Monday, which is at Westminster Abbey and not Parliament. Funeral organizers have not released a guest list and it was unclear who from China might attend.
Sanctioned British lawmakers wrote to officials this week to express concern that the Chinese government had been invited to send representatives to the queen’s state funeral.
After a day out of public view on Thursday, King Charles III flew to Wales on Friday on the final leg of his tour of the nations that make up Britain.
Charles, who for decades before taking the throne was the Prince of Wales, visited Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral for a service of prayer and reflection in honor of his late mother. After the service, he and Camilla, the Queen’s consort, greeted crowds of well-wishers, including flag-waving schoolchildren as people chanted “God save the King!”
The king later traveled to the Welsh parliament, the Senedd, to receive condolences from lawmakers and returned them, telling MPs that Wales “couldn’t have been closer to my mother’s heart”.
Charles said he felt “hugely grateful” for the privilege” of serving for decades as the Prince of Wales, the title traditionally given to the heir to the throne. Prince William now holds that title.
Charles returns to London later on Friday and will stand briefly at his mother’s coffin in the evening with his siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
A day later, all eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren are expected to stand vigil by her coffin for 15 minutes.
Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, will attend the vigil together with Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall and Peter Philips; Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and Prince Edward’s children – Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.
William, who after his grandmother’s death is now the heir to the throne, will stand at the head of the coffin and Harry at the foot. Both princes, who are veterans, will be in uniform.
Most senior royals hold honorary military roles and have worn uniforms to events commemorating the Queen. Harry, who served in Afghanistan as an officer in the British Army, wore civilian clothes during the Queen’s coffin procession from Buckingham Palace, where he is no longer a working member of the royal family. He and his wife Meghan stepped down from royal duties and moved to the US in 2020.
The King requested that both William and Harry wear their uniforms during the vigil at Westminster Hall.
Police in London said on Friday that the Queen’s funeral on Monday will be the biggest single police event the force has ever handled.
Stuart Cundy, assistant chief constable for the Metropolitan Police, said the massive police operation was even bigger than that for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as well as the celebrations earlier this year of the Queen’s 70th anniversary.
“The selection of officers, officers and all those who support the operation is truly enormous,” he said. (AP) PMS PMS
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