Football star David Beckham stood in line for more than 13 hours on Friday with members of the public to see Queen Elizabeth II’s lie, praising the late monarch’s ‘incredible legacy’ and recalling how much he had ” the chance” to meet her.
The former England football captain was spotted among the afternoon crowd as the UK government told members of the public not to join the line, which had reached full capacity, stretching to around 3 miles from Westminster Hall.
Elizabeth died aged 96 on September 8 while staying at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish estate. The monarch’s body will rest in state in Westminster until his state funeral on Monday. The Queen’s body was moved into the hall of Buckingham Palace on Wednesday in a special procession followed by members of her family, including King Charles III and Princes William and Harry.
Britain’s kings and queens have lain in state in Westminster Hall before their funerals since Elizabeth’s great-grandfather, Edward VII, did so in 1910. When her father, King George VI , died in 1952, more than 300,000 mourners lined up to pay their respects. .
There are no preliminary estimates as to how many people will attend Elizabeth’s ceremony. But the number is expected to exceed any previous occasion as there will be an extra day to that of George VI, and the hall has been open 24 hours a day.
Asked by Britain’s ITV why he decided to join the long queue to attend the event, Beckham, who arrived at 2am, said he wanted to ‘celebrate’ the life of the queen and that it was “special to be here”.
“I grew up in a royalist family,” he said, “so if my grandparents had been here today I know they would have wanted to be here. I am here on their behalf and on behalf of my family and obviously to celebrate with everyone here.”
Beckham later said: “We can all see with the love that is shown how special she was and the legacy she leaves behind. It’s a sad day, but it’s a day for us. to remember the incredible legacy she left.”
The football star said: “I thought coming at 2am would make it a bit quieter. I was wrong. Everyone had that in mind but people here are all ages. …. Everyone wants to be here to be a part of this experience, to celebrate what Her Majesty has done for us.”
Beckham is the most high-profile celebrity to be spotted queuing in London so far as the public pays their respects to the former monarch.
On Friday evening, the Queen’s four children – King Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – are due to pay special tribute to their mother. They will take part in a “Veille des Princes”, where they will stand guard next to his coffin for a short time.
This tradition was started in 1936 by the four sons of King George V and was repeated in 2002 for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother by her four grandsons.
The eight grandchildren of Elizabeth II will take part in a similar vigil which will take place on Saturday. They will include Prince William, who is the new Prince of Wales, as well as Prince Harry and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York.
The Queen’s coffin will be transported to Westminster Abbey on Monday morning, where the state funeral will take place before what is expected to be the largest gathering of crowned heads and world leaders in London since her coronation in 1953.
From the Abbey, the Queen will be taken to Windsor Castle, where she will be buried alongside her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.