LONDON: Hundreds of people are queuing outside Windsor Castle as it opens to members of the public for the first time since the Queen’s death.
It is the first opportunity the public have had to view the Queen’s final resting place and see the ledger stone in the George VI memorial chapel which is inscribed with her name. Anne Daley, 65, from Cardiff, and Grace Gotharg, from Ghana but who lives in London, were the first people in the queue, having arrived at Windsor Castle at 7.30am.
Ms Daley said she felt emotional about entering, adding: “The castle feels like empty, gloomy. Nobody’s living in it. You know, you’ve lost the Queen, you’ve lost the duke, you lost the corgis. “It’s like when you’ve sold your house and all the history is gone.”
Both Ms Daley and Ms Gotharg have been supporters of the monarchy for a long time. Ms Daley said: “My father was in the Irish Guards and he did the coronation. So I had an interest from when I was a little girl.”
Ms Gotharg added: “I am from the Commonwealth so I knew the Queen before I came here. “She did a good job as head of the Commonwealth. She was a good woman and a good mother. Everybody loves her.” The pair, who became friends at the unveiling of the Diana, Princess of Wales statue outside Kensington Palace in July 2021, were among the first people to see the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall.
Ms Daley said: “We waited at Lambeth Bridge on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when we eventually got in at 5pm.” Darren Martin, 43, from near Melbourne in Australia, was the next person in the queue at Windsor.
He travelled to the UK two weeks ago following the Queen’s death.
Mr Martin said: “I arrived in time to do the queue and camped out for the funeral. I’ve driven all the way to Balmoral, Holyroodhouse and Sandringham.
“I then had a little bit of a holiday in Sussex and Cornwall. I’ve come here today for my final send-off before I go back home.
“She was somebody that I admired very much for her service, everything that she did and everything she stood for. “My grandparents liked the royal family. My grandmother reminded me of the Queen. As a child I fantasised about my own grandmother being the Queen and that stood with me throughout my life.”
In 2013, Mr Martin brought his 85-year-old grandparents to the UK and they visited many of the royal sites.
He said: “It’s been quite an emotional experience coming back, but I think it was just something I felt really deeply and strongly about doing. “It wouldn’t have been the same just sitting at home watching everything on TV. I felt strongly enough to be here in person.”
Ms Gotharg and Ms Daley said it was “sad” and “emotional” to see the Queen’s gravestone. Ms Gotharg said: “It was sad to see her lying down there, like we saw in Westminster. It was so emotional.
“I’m so glad I’ve seen her for the last time.”
Ms Daley added: “That’s finality, seeing the gravestone. It confirms to you that that’s it over and done. Elizabeth II… that’s her reign finished.” Inside the grounds of Windsor Castle, the queue into St George’s Chapel was long, running the whole way along the outside of the building.
Signs saying “no photography” were plastered on many posts and pillars.
Once inside, the crowd shuffled round the walls of the chapel, passing the tombs of other monarchs and the main seating area. After looping round the front of the building, they entered the back part of the chapel.
There, on the left, in a tomb behind a black railing, lies Queen Elizabeth II.
Her gravestone is black with gold writing and several wreaths with flowers of various colours remain on top and around it.
Members of the public walked slowly past the tomb, but they did not stop, as they had been instructed not to do so by members of staff. The queue then proceeded slowly through the chapel, past the altar and over tombstones of other previous monarchs.
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