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Britons Pay Respects to 'Queen Mum'

Royalty: Thousands file past the coffin of the matriarch, whose burial is scheduled for Tuesday.

April 06, 2002|From Reuters

LONDON — Thousands of people formed a mile-long line to pay their respects to Britain's beloved queen mother on Friday, filing past her coffin as she lay in state after a grand funeral procession that matched that of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.

The line of well-wishers snaked along the banks of the River Thames, and police said the imposing Westminster Hall, where the coffin will remain until burial Tuesday, would stay open until all mourners had filed past.

Up to 250,000 people had earlier packed the route of the procession, straining to see the casket borne slowly on a horse-drawn gun carriage. Such a large procession had not been seen since Churchill's death in 1965.

Draped over the coffin was the queen mother's standard. On top was her diamond-encrusted crown. On the coffin lay a white bouquet with the simple inscription "In Loving Memory." It was signed "Lilibet," the Queen Mother's pet name for her daughter Queen Elizabeth.

The teenage princes William and Harry bowed their heads in grief, arms straight at their sides.

Prince Charles, their father and the 101-year-old "queen mum's" favorite grandson, mourned a "gloriously unstoppable and magical" woman who became a wartime symbol of British defiance.

The queen mother was a bastion of support as the House of Windsor juggled scandal and divorce, its popularity punctured as the age of deference passed into history.

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