The ABC’s Rafael Epstein is currently in the UK and was among the throng of people who lined the streets of London for the procession.
He says the crowd began to cheers and bellows of ‘God Save the King’ rang out as the coffin passed Downing Street.
As the bells chimed from a freshly painted ‘Big Ben’ tower, as the coffin passed Downing St, the spontaneous cries rang out. “God Save the King!” wasn’t cheered, it was bellowed. The response was a crowd yelling back a triple chorus of ‘Hip-Hip? Hooray!’ .
And this from people who waited – some since dawn – hundreds of thousands of them adamant they needed to be on the road known as WhiteHall to farewell a Queen and anoint a King. As one woman said to me after waiting eight hours, “the hush before the parade, that said an awful lot, and then Big Ben tolling in the background.”
I have never experienced anything like this before. The depth of emotion and personal connection to the Queen is real. It is spontaneous and deep amongst many of the people who call Britain home.
I got to Trafalgar Square at 6.30 in the morning. It was emptied of vehicle traffic. Further down near Westminster they’d even removed the traffic lights to improve the look of the procession broadcast on TV. But this was also a rare historical moment.
We waited for around 8 hours. We chatted and laughed, swapping stories with a Republican voter from Florida, a mother and daughter who’d been to every celebration of the Queen’s life for decades, and a retired nurse and her family from Sussex. When the military band leading the procession came within earshot, the thousands of watchers fell silent.