Final mourners who saw Queen Lying-In-State ‘friends forever’ after meeting in queue

The final two mourners to see the Queen lying in state have said they think they will be friends “forever” after meeting in the queue.

Chrissy Heerey, a member of the Royal Air Force, and Sima Mansouri, 55, were the two last people into Westminster Hall on Monday morning.

The public viewing ended shortly before 6.30am and the pair became the last of the hundreds of thousands of people who have waited for hours to pay their respects.

Sima told Sky News: “We shared this together and that’s what makes it special, and I think we’re going to be friends forever, and the Queen brought us together.”

Chrissy, who was the final person to file past the Queen, said it was her second time in the queue, having already passed the coffin earlier during the night.

She told the PA news agency: “I was the last person to pay my respects to the Queen and it felt like a real privilege to do that.”

She added: “I’d already been round once, I went in at 1.15 am this morning.

“It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here.”

The penultimate person to see the Queen lying in state was Sima, 55, originally from Iran, who lives in South Croydon, London.

Her love for the Queen dates back to the 1970s when her cousin was a flower girl for a royal visit in Tehran.

Sima told PA: “It was a boiling hot day and my poor cousin has got very fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.

“The Queen came out of her plane and was more concerned with my cousin burning in the sun than being a royal.

“She said: ‘Can someone please get this little girl out of the sun?’ Then she kissed her and grabbed the flowers. I thought it was amazing.”

She told Sky News how the Queen had made her feel welcome in the UK where she has lived for the past 25 years.

She said: “I call this place home and she made me feel like I was at home here and safe. I always looked up to her.”

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The Queen inspired many women, she said, adding that “she’ll always be in my heart, forever”.

From 5pm on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of members of the public filed past the coffin until, early on Monday morning, the final people who had queued through the night left the cavernous mediaeval hall.

The process has seen a river of people snaking along the Thames around the clock, with members of the public mixing with celebrities and foreign dignitaries beneath Westminster Hall’s hammer-beam roof.

Members of parliamentary staff and Black Rod Sarah Clarke were the last people to pay their respects after those who had queued had been through Westminster Hall.

For the Queen, it was the final duty in Parliament, an institution which she visited frequently during her 70-year reign.

She delivered her first Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on November 4 1952.

By the end of the Lying-In-State, the flow of mourners passing into Westminster Hall had slowed to a trickle as those at the back of the queue finally reached their destination.

Some were smartly dressed in sombre black coats, while others wore brightly coloured outdoor gear which served as protection against the chilly autumnal night.

They passed through the hall in silence, with some pausing for one final tribute to the only monarch many of them have ever known before exiting into the dawn.

The silence was interrupted only by the changing of the guard every 20 minutes, the sound of military boots on the stone floor echoing off the walls.

There was some anger among people who had failed to make it into Westminster Hall though.

They complained that they were given “false hope” they would be able to attend after queuing through the night without the necessary wristbands.

Access to the official queue had ended on Sunday night, in order to meet the 6.30am closure of the lying-in-state period.

But Pauline Pearce, who queued in central London for seven hours, said “constant misinformation” was given to those in the queue.

Pauline, who was dubbed the “Hackney heroine” after she was filmed confronting rioters in 2011, said: “All of us have felt angry today.

“We were sent from one point to another and living off the false hope that they might let us in. At one point they said they were going to open the gates, then suddenly they didn’t. There was no empathy at all from the organisers.”


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