Residents of Hemel Hempstead have been united in mourning, grief, and celebration of Her Majesty The Queen, who died at the age of 96 as our nation’s longest reigning monarch.
For more than 70 years Queen Elizabeth II served the nation with unswerving dedication and dignity, serving as the constant thread that wove between and connected generations of people.
MyLocalNews heard from residents who braved the long queue to witness the Queen lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.
Helen Romain queued with her husband, despite hearing that the wait was 24 hours long.
She said: “We arrived at Southwark park at 9pm and were completely amazed at the amount of people already in the queue. Everyone was happily chatting about their reasons for coming and lots making friends quickly for having like-minded reasons.
“We finally got through to Westminster hall at 10am the following morning and oh my goodness, I’m not sure I can explain the feeling. After hours and hours walking slowly, the final minutes went so quickly. It was all quite overwhelming to be honest, not only seeing this tiny coffin in such a huge, imposing room but also the silence and emotion you suddenly felt to be at the end of the walk but also to be able to say thank you and goodbye.”
Tina Lucas travelled to London alone but found immediately found companions to share the experience with.
She said: “Almost straight away I got talking to a guy and another woman and her daughter. We then chatted throughout and stayed together until after we came out of the Chapel. It was an amazing experience, and the atmosphere was so lovely. Police and volunteers chatted to us and kept us going with their positivity. I actually think going alone was better as it made one talk to others around.
“I have only ever known the queen and felt she gave us so many years. The least I could do was give up my day off work to pay my respects.”
Howard Slinger and his wife queued for 14 hours.
He said: “I went to the lying in state for the Queen Mother so wanted to do it again. This however was on a different scale.
“The atmosphere in Westminster Hall was very quiet, calming and surreal. We were only there for a few minutes and it went by very quickly.”
Emma De Allie wanted to represent her family and those who couldn’t physically manage the visit, spending more than 13 hours in the queue.
She said: “There was around three hours that we didn’t move, from 4am to 7am beside the Thames. Adrenaline keeps you going, remembering what you are there for. It was 100% worthwhile and I would still have joined even if I knew it would be 13 and a half hours. Those minutes in Westminster Hall were very special.”
At 6.30 am, Hemel resident Kevin Dawney was live on BBC news, having been in the queue for 12 hours already.
He told the nation: “Why have we all come here? To pay our respects to a lady who has given 70 years great service to our country. It’s the least we can do.”