Royal fans camp out to get front row seats for the queen’s funeral

1 min read
Britain mourns Queen Elizabeth

By William James and Stuart McDill

LONDON (Reuters) – A line of four blue camping chairs mark the spot Wendy Bingley will spend more than 24 hours chatting to passersby, eating sandwiches and, around midday on Monday, watching Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession pass by.

Bingley, her daughter and 79 year-old mother, will be joined by tens of thousands on The Mall, a grand avenue outside Buckingham Palace, to watch Elizabeth’s coffin on its journey to her final resting place in Windsor following her funeral nL8N30M48X in nearby Westminster Abbey.

The queen’s death, aged 96, at her Scottish castle on Sept. 8 has prompted a national outpouring of emotion, drawing huge crowds with thousands queuing to join sometimes-sombre, sometimes-celebratory gatherings for a monarch who spent seven decades on the throne.

“We absolutely adore the queen,” said Bingley, 58, who set off before dawn to bag a prime viewing spot, metres from where the coffin will pass.

“The rest of the family think we’re mad, but hey ho.”

Closer to parliament, where Elizabeth’s body is lying in state, others have already spent a night on the pavement to witness the grand military procession and gun carriage that will convey the coffin towards Wellington Arch.

“I’m only 5 foot 3 (1.6 metres), I didn’t want to be 10-deep in the crowd. I wanted to be able to see, so here we are, committed to it,” said 61-year old Fiona Ross who lives in Italy and spent the night in a tent with her sister.

Bingley, who has no tent, will sleep on her camping chair. Last week she queued through the night to see the queen’s lying in state, returning home for an hour’s sleep before going to work.

On The Mall, there are toilets nearby, sunscreen and hot tea on offer from a welfare tent and drinking water in the nearby park. Bingley’s dinner will consist of a supermarket picnic and a glass of wine.

“We’ve got sandwiches, I’ve got a big box of tomatoes, I got sausage rolls – I basically went into Marks and Spencer’s and bought everything,” she said.

The procession will likely pass their position in a matter of minutes, but a big part of her decision to attend was the shared experience it promised.

“It’s as much as coming to see the queen as it is experiencing being with the people … everyone’s just lovely,” she said, gesturing at the growing crowds walking behind her. One of those walking stops to chat and ask the group incredulously: “Are you here for the night?”

(Reporting by William James and Stuart McDill; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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