Two leading councilors spoke of how proud they were to be heading to London to pay their respects to the Queen, the “chief servant of the state”.

Councilor Jonathan Dalston, leader Darlington County Councilsaid: “We are all truly experiencing this once-in-a-generation moment.

“It’s what Britain does best in terms of creating these world-leading ceremonial events.

“We did Her Majesty justice in her final journey and I am very proud to have been a part of it.

“I would say it was somber but nice in the sense that people were upbeat and sharing their positive experiences and the legacy that the Queen left behind. Not everything was sad.

“People are completely saddened and devastated, but they also reflect on the positive impact she has had on people’s lives.”

Read more: Darlington woman tells what it was like to meet Queen Elizabeth II

Cllr Kevin Nicholson, cabinet member for health and housing, was also in London and after watching the parade said: “It was just wonderful. You just make people proud to be British.

“The public sentiment in London is one of sentiment, but also one of pride.

“It is absolutely right that her legacy lives on with her son, who has been by her side for decades.

“It’s a bittersweet moment. You must let go of the past in order to evolve into the future.

Cllr Kevin Nicholson. Photo: Northern Echo.

“If you talk to people in London, they would have to see this event and see the Queen in bed to believe that she really isn’t there.”

Cllrs Nicholson and Doulston were among the last to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall.

They queued for 15 hours before being admitted around 6am on Monday morning, half an hour before the line closed.

Cllr Dulston said: “We could see the back of the queue. There were probably another 200 people behind us.

“My legs hurt terribly. I’m getting better, 15 hours on my feet is a long time. But I didn’t feel like 15 hours.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral LIVE – Updates as the North East says goodbye

“The friendships you make in line are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

“The atmosphere and the people who came together was really something special. There was a special moment and a special bond shared in line. I spoke to a wide range of people from all over the country.

“It is probably the legacy of the late Queen that she still has the ability to bring the country together.

“Considering that the hall was filled with several hundred people, you could hear a pin drop. It was as warm as the front room in winter.

Northern Echo: Cllr Jonathan Doulston.  Photo: Sarah Caldecott.Cllr Jonathan Doulston. Photo: Sarah Caldecott.

“It was such a surreal experience that just made you think about such an important public servant. The ultimate civil servant.

“For me, it’s a really fitting tribute to a great man.”

He thanked the emergency services, armed forces and volunteers for their upbeat professionalism in “supporting people”.

He added: “It’s been humbling to be part of our grieving communities and support them at this difficult time, but it’s just a reminder that public service is something you live and breathe.

“It’s a reminder of a man who made a great sacrifice by devoting his entire life to public service.”

Read more: The Red Lion in Darlington remains open to visitors watching the Queen’s funeral

Concert Nicholson said: “Ultimately as a volunteer community champion, I look to the people who fill this role for inspiration. Many people were there simply to say thank you for the service the Queen has given over the past 70 years.

“For the last 10 days, I’ve been very emotional and very emotional about the whole situation.”

He said voters had asked if he would travel to London and see the Queen on behalf of those who could not make it.

He said: “It’s great that people have said ‘thank you for representing us’ by putting Firthmoor and Darlington on this national holiday. I’m really proud that I was able to do that.”

Read more: Stokesley Church shows the funeral of Queen Elizabeth

He said people cheered each other on during the 15-hour wait with tea and songs as the line wound its way to Westminster Hall, making those few minutes inside all the more precious.

“It was by far the most intense experience I’ve ever had in my life.

“You have a lot of camaraderie. We met people from Spain, America, the Caribbean. They are all there for the same purpose: to pay tribute and honor to the Queen’s extraordinary public service, and to encourage everyone in line to keep going.

“We had conversations about why the Queen is important, the cost of living, and how nobody eats pea pudding in the South. There were many people talking about their personal journeys around grief. It was just a wonderful experience.

“The sense of community was alive and well across the Thames.

“You wouldn’t be able to get that if you could just walk in.

“When we walked into Westminster Hall it was a very somber atmosphere but it felt very powerful. It was also nerve-wracking. 15 hours didn’t matter. We were able to express our personal respect, but also share the views of the residents we represent as well.

“The moment we shared with the monarch was special.

“There’s a real presence and dignity, and I guess grandeur, and it humbles you. You felt very humbled to be able to get the opportunity to acknowledge your sovereign’s contribution. Everyone is silent and everyone feels very depressed.’

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