Sally-Anne and Anthony reach Tower Bridge

Now she lives in the south, but visits Scarborough every week. This is her account of what has been affectionately called the “Elizabeth Line.”

We just wanted to go and see The Queue.

This four-day unique line quickly turned into an internet craze. Twitter was ablaze with fans admitting they had become addicted to the live stream, which showed mourners entering Westminster Hall to see the Queen as she lay in state.

Sally-Anne Fawcett proudly displays her bracelet with husband Anthony

Some stood in line for hours, some traveled hundreds of miles, but all were united by the desire to pay their respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

So my husband Anthony and I got to Southwark Park, saw the queue…and joined it.

We were only going to join him for an hour or so to get a feel for the atmosphere. Then we spoke to our next door neighbor Miranda from North London and suddenly we were two hours away and headed for the Thames.

We were joined in the chat by Mala, who showed us photos of her son’s Indian wedding and asked me to help her design a cover for her book about being a grandparent.

People were advised to be patient

By then we were on Surrey’s waterfront, admiring the old commercial buildings that have now been converted into posh (and very expensive) apartments.

I think by the time our new friendship group got to Tower Bridge we realized that secretly we were committed: in this for the long haul.

And what a long road it was. If it was a marathon, we would collect sponsorship money.

It was definitely the most mentally challenging physical challenge I have ever taken on.

Sally-Ann with some friends she made in line and a couple of smiling police officers

The queue often did not move for twenty minutes. It was like a race in reverse: take as long as you can to go five miles. Standing still for a long time is hard on the skeleton and the mind; you have no control over your further passage. The queue moves when it moves.

We received our official wristbands only five hours later. Then it dawned on us that we had been standing in line until this moment. But pity those back at Southwark Park. Due to overcrowding, the queue was closed for six hours, leading to a strange situation where people were queuing to get into the queue.

Tourists passed us with cameras, mesmerized by this very British sight, while we stood, shuffled, stood some more, walked (at the time a very brutal novelty) and exchanged life stories with our new friends.

Have I ever been tempted to throw in the towel? One time. We had just passed the London Eye, desperate for a cuppa but resisted by the toilet situation, but encouraged by the knowledge that Westminster Hall was just around the corner.

Friends in line

– No, – one of the routes said cheerfully. “Five hours to go. At least.”

But as the sun disappeared along with our mood, the sight of the Parliament buildings lit up against the darkening sky couldn’t help but cheer us up. We could do it for the queen. She never gave up and neither did we.

After the longest zig zag paths in history – probably visible from space – we arrived at the security tent to relieve ourselves of water, gum, apples and an eyeliner pencil that I was going to throw away anyway.

And suddenly – just like that – fourteen hours after we had gone “just to look” at line after line, we found ourselves: descending the steps into the venerable silence of Westminster Hall, passing quietly past the Queen’s coffin, draped with the standard flag, the glittering crown in in all its glory.

We bowed, curtsied and were overcome with emotion as we silently thanked this remarkable woman who had given so much for so long.

We then stepped back into the cold night air, hugging our friends with promises to stay in touch, and boarded the trains home.

I am waiting patiently

That night I dreamed I was back in Southwark Park, facing fourteen-hour zig-zag queues and laughing policemen giving us ever-increasing end times.

And, yes, I would do it all over again. For the friendship, the spectacular scenery and the privilege of being in the Queen’s presence for the last time.

And, well, because we Brits love queuing!


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