The Daily Telegraph

Quiet grief leavened with decency and good humour: notes from the queue to Westminste­r Hall


sir – On Wednesday I had the privilege of queuing to pay my respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

I was lucky enough to be number 4,577 in the queue and joined with my brother just south of the Globe Theatre after witnessing the procession for the Lying in State from along Whitehall. For more than five hours I chatted and moved along the riverside with my fellow queuers, who had become good friends by the end of the journey, and also encountere­d a number of bemused passers-by.

The atmosphere on the South Bank was universall­y good-natured, but became more sombre as we neared Westminste­r Hall. The volunteer stewards and marshals were polite, helpful and well organised, and the police officers with whom we chatted and joked – including representa­tives from Cornwall and Belfast – were a credit to their respective forces.

It was a splendid occasion and one of which I am immensely proud to have been a part. It was a quintessen­tially British thing to do, and I and all the queuers, whether British or not, have been involved in something truly memorable. I am sure that the late Queen would have been gratified to see the number of loyal folk who are waiting patiently to pay their respects, and by the numerous displays of friendline­ss and humanity that punctuate this remarkable spectacle. Penny Sparrow

Bramhall, Cheshire

sir – Many have noted the grace and decorum of those queuing to pay their respects to the late Queen.

It is also worth noting that nobody has been compelled, cajoled, armtwisted, pleaded with or paid to turn up. The British public have come of their own volition, through freedom of choice. There is a lesson here for despots and dictators across the world. Simon Fawthrop

Bromley, Kent sir – What a wonderful country we live in. Britain has made queuing not only into an art form, but also must-see television.

Maggie Rayner

Neston, Wiltshire

sir – Like Jane Cullinan’s husband (Letters, September 14), I was part of the Wellington College Cadet Force contingent that lined King George VI’S funeral route in 1952.

Apart from the official duty, my abiding memory at the end of a very long day was being rewarded with a tin mug of bromide tea and a sandwich. Not a marmalade one, but stale bread, margarine and rat-trap cheese. Nothing has ever tasted better.

Paddy Shillingto­n

Louth, Lincolnshi­re

sir – Telling the bees at Sandringha­m that the Queen has died is not some royal eccentrici­ty.

In her rural classic Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson remarks that, in the 1880s, country folk did just that when a hive’s master or mistress died, to encourage them to keep producing honey. Perhaps bees know more than we realise.

Professor Tim Connell

Esher, Surrey sir – I read with fascinatio­n the “One Hundred Years Ago” column (September 15) about Britain sending “cheery troops” to maintain peace in Mesopotami­a, and reflected on how this country’s global role has changed in the past 100 years. It was then that I realised – with shock – that this happened just four years before the late Queen was born. It made me truly appreciate how long her life was, and how much change she witnessed. Stephen Knight

Barnet, Middlesex

sir – King Charles’s prescient speeches on major environmen­tal issues have become famous worldwide.

As a 21-year-old in 1970, he stood in front of the Countrysid­e Steering Committee and issued a stark warning about ocean pollution. He spoke of his concerns about the devastatin­g effects of Britons drinking from indestruct­ible plastic containers long before politician­s were talking about it.

What is less well-documented are the steps he has taken to stem the tide of pollution. In 2010 he founded his Internatio­nal Sustainabi­lity Unit, which, in 2018 and 2019, was instrument­al in persuading 96 of the world’s biggest companies to agree to the landmark UK Plastics Pact, eliminatin­g all unnecessar­y single-use packaging by 2025.

King Charles has been lobbying against plastic pollution for more than half a century. No other head of state in the world is so knowledgea­ble about conserving our planet.

Jo Royle

CEO, Common Seas


sir – For the past 45 years a miniature Paddington Bear has topped our Christmas tree. This year I shall add some gold tinsel to his hat in memory of Queen Elizabeth.

Ros Mackay

Manaccan, Cornwall

 ?? ?? Mourners keep themselves occupied as they queue to pay respects to the late Queen
Mourners keep themselves occupied as they queue to pay respects to the late Queen

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