Queen’s Funeral: A nation prepares to mourn the loss of its beloved monarch as thousands camp out

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The first members of the congregation for the Queen’s State Funeral have arrived at Westminster Abbey.

The great oaken doors of Britain’s most important church, where Her Majesty Prince Philip was married and crowned, opened at 8am, three hours before the service began.

2,000 royalty, heads of state, VIPs and hundreds of visitors will be in attendance at the abbey while billions around the world will watch Her Majesty’s state funeral.

And outside, die-hard royal fans defied the no-camping rules as people of all ages set up tents, lounge chairs and even a makeshift minibar to snag prime seats for the spectacle, which will see 2 million people flock to the capital.

And amid concerns that London will be ‘full’ today – and a shortage of hotel rooms – scores of people began to converge on The Mall in central London over the weekend, despite seemingly loosely enforced rules preventing people from setting up camp build up.

This morning, before dawn, stewards told campers to pitch their tents. Huge crowds have also formed in Windsor, where the Queen will be buried tonight.

Several who stayed the night in central London said friends and family had told them they were “mad” to perform the vigil but insisted they would not miss the opportunity.

British Minister Nadhim Zahawi was among the first guests to arrive at the abbey

British Minister Nadhim Zahawi was among the first guests to arrive at the abbey

2,000 people will attend Her Majesty's state funeral

2,000 people will attend Her Majesty’s state funeral

A group wrapped in Union flags camped out on chairs overnight to be in London for the funeral

A group wrapped in Union flags camped out on chairs overnight to be in London for the funeral

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Crowds camp out in Whitehall and Parliament Square at night to await the funeral

Crowds camp out in Whitehall and Parliament Square at night to await the funeral

Tents on Whitehall this morning in the shadow of the memorial to the women of the second world war

Tents on Whitehall this morning in the shadow of the memorial to the women of the second world war

Mourners wrapped in blankets wait with others at Horse Guards ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral. Many have camped out

Mourners wrapped in blankets wait with others at Horse Guards ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral. Many have camped out

Ahead of the first state funeral in nearly 60 years, people slept on the floor and on chairs wrapped in blankets

Ahead of the first state funeral in nearly 60 years, people slept on the floor and on chairs wrapped in blankets

Members of the public camped overnight on The Mall near Buckingham Palace ahead of a State Funeral

Members of the public camped overnight on The Mall near Buckingham Palace ahead of a State Funeral

The line of people sleeping in London was several times deep, stretching towards Green Park and St James' Park

The line of people sleeping in London was several times deep, stretching towards Green Park and St James’ Park

A pearl king and queen line the procession route in London

A pearl king and queen line the procession route in London

Among them were school friends Christine Manning, 75, and Dianne Donohue, 73, from Leek in Staffordshire, who slept in a pop-up tent.

Ms Donohoe, a retired homemaker and grandmother of three, said: “Yes the advice was not to camp but we didn’t take it. We had a good comeback, we enjoyed it.

“We slept in the tent and at 4.30am I woke up and asked Chris if she was up, she was, so we had whiskey and lemonade and pork pie. A few more hours of sleep, then Prosecco.

“We had to put down our tent at 7am because the police told us to but we couldn’t do it so we had to get a boy to help us.

“We’re out of pork pies, unfortunately, but we’ve got sausage rolls and we’ve got some gin, now that the whiskey is running out – we’re lively.”

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Miss Manning, a retired waitress, added: “My kids said we were crazy.

“Well, ‘spiritual’ is the word they used. They said we were idiots for that.

‘I said it must be done.’

Mourners camped near Parliament Square this morning

Mourners camped near Parliament Square this morning

The street is cleaned ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral procession amid already large crowds

The street is cleaned ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral procession amid already large crowds

The Mall was buzzing with activity yesterday as people came to lay flowers nearby, catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade and snag their vantage points for the funeral procession as it made its way from Westminster to Windsor.

Tim Thompson, 35, of New Brunswick, Canada, and Charlie Shirley, 36, of North London, also slept in a tent in the mall.

The couple became friends after sitting next to each other at William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 and took up the same seat again on Saturday.

Miss Shirley said: “We do all royal events together, it’s like we’re family.

“I saw Tim at the Queen’s Jubilee and we said we’d probably see each other next at the Queen’s funeral – we didn’t expect it to be three months later.”

Mr Thompson said: “I take four days holiday a year for royal events so I had to be here.”

American businesswoman Nicole Alford, 40, paid around £1,300 for a last-minute flight to London on Thursday and said she would be camping until after the funeral.

She said: “You don’t come all the way and then watch it on TV. I want a front seat of history.

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“My mom said, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this.’

“I said, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t think I would do that.’

“Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I got five and a half hours of straight sleep my first night out here, so I’m fine.”

Semi-retired teacher Ian Rhodes, 66, and his wife Sue, 58, from Alton in Staffordshire, arrived at the Mall at 11am (SUN) yesterday to claim their spot – although they said they would sleep in deckchairs instead to put up a tent.

Mr Rhodes said: “The only other time I queued up for anything overnight was when Stoke City came to Wembley for the 1972 Cup Final and I waited in the club shop overnight with my friends to get tickets.

“People said we were crazy, but sanity is relative.”

Ms Rhodes said the couple’s two adult sons were a little concerned that their parents would “rough it up” in London overnight, but said: “I told them we would do it anyway – when has her mother ever done what was she told?”

Paulette Galley, from Boston in Lincolnshire, said she was determined to stay at The Mall overnight.

The 54-year-old kitchen hand, originally from south London, said: “I might not get any sleep but I don’t care. She was my queen and I want to pay my respects to her.

‘There’s no way I wouldn’t be here.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11226487/Queen-funeral-nation-gets-ready-mourn-beloved-monarch-thousands-camp-out.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Queen’s Funeral: A nation prepares to mourn the loss of its beloved monarch as thousands camp out

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