LONDON – Tens of thousands of people gathered Monday in Hyde Park to watch Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, video of the funeral being shown on the big screen. They sit on camping chairs, blankets, ladders and stools, bring their own breakfast or buy hot dogs, fish and chips from some of the food trucks installed for the occasion.
The carnival-like atmosphere initially turned bleak as the ceremony at Westminster Abbey began, with huge crowds watching in silence. They also read prayers with the congregation.
“I cried my eyes out,” Jess Parsons, 36, wearing a British flag, said as she watched the funeral. Mrs Parsons currently lives in Paris, but she returned to London just for the funeral. She said she stayed up until early Monday morning distributing tea and coffee to “The Queue” people who were waiting to see the queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall.
“They don’t make them like her anymore,” she said, referring to the queen. “She’s a one-time only.”
Maxine Harris and her friend Ellie Curran, 28 years old and dressed in black, arrived at Hyde Park and clapped their hands like thunder as the screen flashed a funeral scene while the sound of cannons rang through the air.
“Especially with this political climate, it’s great that we can all be together,” Harris said.
“As we get older, we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren we’ve been here,” said Ms. Curran.
Jeff McNally, 63, from Bournemouth, England, wore a medallion featuring the queen he was given in the 1970s, when he served in the Royal Artillery.
“I wanted to say goodbye to my boss,” he said. “Prime Ministers come and go, but she has been a constant in my life.”
Steven Chow, 46, who moved to the UK from Hong Kong last year, said he came to Hyde Park with his family for their memories of growing up in Hong Kong when it was under British control. “We want to thank the queen for showing us Hong Kong at its best,” said Mr Chow, who stood in the Queue for 13 hours.