London, The Indonesia Post – Thousands of people are spending the night in open spaces in London to find the best place to see Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession on Monday.
Some of them brought tents, sleeping bags, inflatable beds and thermos of tea, while others sat or slept on the ground wearing only their jackets.
One couple seemed to fall asleep holding each other’s hands to resist the cold.
Melanie Odey, a 60-year-old teacher, stands near a barrier erected along the Mall, the main avenue that runs in front of Buckingham Palace.
She had spent the night there in a tent with his two daughters and grandson after arriving on Sunday afternoon at 04.30 local time (22.30 WIB).
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of history, to pay your respects,” said Odey, who wrapped a pink scarf around her head.
“The atmosphere here is so unique. I had to come. It must be worth it,” she said, adding that was the least she could do to honor the late queen.
“She has always been a big part of my life. He is always there to guide us. She cares so much about this country.”
Odey said the people in line were being friendly. They shared stories with each other until around 11pm when several people were trying to sleep.
People continued to visit the site throughout the night in taxis or additional trains operated to help the community.
As people walked across the route of the funeral procession, some were dressed in black and looked somber. Others seem happier.
Three women in British Union Jack costumes sing the national anthem “God Save the Queen”.
On the streets, various groups of people mingle as one, young and old. Some people come in wheelchairs, others in strollers.
They came from all over the UK, as well as the world. A woman with dyed green hair and face piercings stands next to a man in a morning suit as they wait for the procession to begin.
Anna Kathryn took the 3:00 a.m. train from Richmond, southwest London, hoping to see the funeral procession.
Like most of the people there, she had never met or seen Queen Elizabeth. However, she said his family felt a personal bond with the queen.
“It felt like a relative had died, we couldn’t miss this,” she said.
“She was a bright spot in everyone’s life and it feels like that light is now gone.”
People who travel to London talk about their motivation for being there.
Some want to take part in history, others want to express national pride, others want to honor a woman who has led England through many changes over the decades.
Some of them said they were surprised when they found out they shared their grief with people they didn’t know.
Alistair Campbell Binnings, 64, said he left his home in Norfolk at midnight and headed for London.
“It’s only once. We’re only here for the queen. We just felt like we had to be here.”
As she prepared to witness the traditional funeral procession, he said there was something distinctly British about the ceremony.
“Only the UK does this kind of thing on a large scale,” she said. “I don’t usually come to royal events, but we are witnessing history. Today, this is the place.”
Katie Williams, a 43-year-old nurse, arrived in London on Sunday and headed for the procession route at midnight.
Holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand, she called the queen “the nation’s grandmother”.
“She’s kind of a magnet that attracts people from all over the world. We all love her, we all respect her.”. (mhn/bbs)