Some mourners queued for more than nine hours to get to the Queen’s coffin, but many said the long wait was worth it.
One day during the queen’s second night, those who stood in the queue that hugged the southern shores River Thames was told that the waiting time had increased to 2 hours.
Mourners said they were left with a “wonderful spirit” of peace Westminster Hall where in the silence “you could hear a pin drop”.
As of 11.30pm on Thursday, the queue was 4.9 miles long and back to Southwark Park in Bermondseyapproximate wait time nine hours.
After just over two hours, the waiting time jumped to 14 hours, although the kilometer of the queue remained the same.
By 5.30am on Friday it was nine hours again, with the actual length reduced to 3.6 miles. The closest landmark to the end of the queue has also changed to Tower Bridge. The queue was nearly five miles long for most of the night, with Southwark listed as the nearest landmark, according to Queue Tracker.
Nurse Melanie Pickman, 50, left her home in Swansea at 11am to queue up shortly before 3pm.
The mother-of-three said: “My sons think I’m mad because I’ve come to my senses London stand in a line that some say can be 30 hours.
“I thought about it last night and decided to come first thing this morning. I just thought I should come.
“We will never see this again. She served our country for so long. We owe her our respect.
“Look at all these people who lined up – she made them happy.
“She may be a queen, but she’s also somebody’s mum, aunt and grandmother. I just think she’s a part of us too. We were lucky to have her.”
There was a tinge of sadness, a huge amount of respect and a lot of friendly chatter as strangers made fast friends with those who had walked alongside them for most of the day.
Surprisingly it wasn’t too noisy either, despite thousands of people ranging from the elderly to babies in arms joining the growing crowd.
Bonuses included mild temperatures in the early 20Cs, rain that didn’t linger and a route that passed landmarks including the Globe Theater and Tate Modern.
Firefighters were seen handing out bottles of water, Samaritan volunteers were available and stewards, police and portable toilets were a prominent presence along the route.
High Commissioner of Great Britain Scouts said the mood among the crowd of people waiting to pay their respects was “friendly and poignant.”
Carl Hankinson, who is among the volunteers monitoring the queue at Victoria Gardens, said scouts were “on their feet for 12 hours” a day to ensure the reception ran smoothly.
A Scout who once met the Queen at a garden party said: “She was fantastic in every way – she was interested in the Scouts, she was chatty, very encouraging and very supportive of the young people.”
Mark Carney, 58, walked past the Queen’s coffin at 6.40pm after driving from his home in Hythe, Kent, on Thursday morning.
At the moment of his personal farewell, he was “struck by the reality” of everything that was happening.
He said: “It amazes you how much this concerns us all and how much love and support the Queen has.”
Mr Kearney joined the queue at around 11.30am and said “it was difficult to find the end of it because the queue was growing as I walked towards it”.
He added: “It was so rewarding and peaceful in so many ways. You should also see London under a different cloud.
“That long journey was worth it. It forces you to focus on what you are here for.”
Earlier, three well-wishers who became friends in line said there was a friendly “camaraderie” in the crowd.
Amy Harris, 34, and Matthew Edwards, 35, met James Cross, 65, after boarding a train to London from Birmingham to queue at around 1am.
Mr Cross said: “Everyone in the queue was very friendly, chatting and laughing. It was really wonderful.”
Mr Edwards said: “Everyone offered biscuits, drinks”, adding that the three now plan to have a pint together after the long wait.
The atmosphere at Westminster Hall was “breathtaking”, Ms Harris said.
“If you can go in and have a moment to look at it and reflect, the serenity – to be able to pay tribute in such a serene place, it’s very peaceful.”
Fiona Holloran, 34, cried as she left Westminster Hall after paying tribute to the Queen.
The Londoner said: “It was really moving to see the vigil around her – I was a bit surprised at how much it affected me.”
A postgraduate student who had been queuing since 6.30am with her baby strapped to her in a pram said the wait was worth it.
“It’s wonderful that everyone has just a moment to themselves – no one pressed.”