“After all these years and she’s still doing her duty. And I really think she’d just like to get back to her husband.”
From world events that have shaped our lives to tragedy and triumph, Tracy Grimshaw has covered it all during her 40 years as a reporter.
However, seeing Queen Elizabeth II lying in state at Westminster Hall left the A Current Affair host in tears, “but not sad tears”, overwhelmed by a remarkable public outpouring of emotion as thousands farewell the only monarch most have ever known.
A remarkable, candid moment with the A Current Affair Host was captured just minutes after she left Westminster Hall. It’s a reflection that captures the mood in London: sad but celebratory of a remarkable reign.
Grimshaw, along with a small number of other media representatives from around the world, was invited by the Palace to view the Queen lying in state so she could share the experience with viewers in Australia. She didn’t take anybody’s place in the queue.
“Where to start,” asked Grimshaw, tears welled up in her eyes.
After a brief wag of the finger to the camera operator, signaling for a second to reflect, and a few moments to compose herself, Grimshaw talked about the raw emotion of seeing the Queen lying in state and the mourners filing past.
“It’s very moving in there,” said Grimshaw.
“I was going to come out and be all journalistic and give you all the history of the building, the Queen’s association with the building, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to take a moment.”
‘These are not sad tears. I think they’re tears that recognize what everyone is feeling as they go in there’
After turning her back to the camera once more, Grimshaw explained how she felt every member of the public that paid their respects brought something very special to an historic occasion.
“I didn’t know what I was expecting. I spent half an hour in there. These people that have queued, I feel so guilty, these people have queued for about eight-and-a-half hours and they get about 10 minutes in there unless they’re lucky enough to get the Changing of the Guard and they they get an extra four minutes and they are the lucky ones
“And as they walk past they only have a moment to stop. And they dip their heads and some of the women curtsey, some of them cross themselves. That’s what they have.
“We had half-an-hour to watch. I’m watching people on walkers, people with crutches, people in wheelchairs, people pushing their babies in prams. Four soldiers in khakis all stopped and saluted her.
“It’s a majestic building and it is sombre. It’s actually not sad. These are not sad tears. I think they’re tears that recognize what everyone is feeling as they go in there [Westminster Hall].
“And I think everyone brings what they bring. But it’s special.
“If I’d have had time I would have queued. I feel very privileged I didn’t have to but you know what, I felt like standing there looking, she’s still doing her duty.
“After all these years – she’s been gone a week now – and she’s still doing her duty. And I really think she’d just like to get back to her husband.”
A chance to say a personal farewell for thousands
Thousands of mourners continue to wait for hours in a line that stretches almost seven kilometers for the chance to pay their respects while the Queen lies in state.
As of 4.30am in London today there is a wait time of at least 11 hours to get into Westminster Hall, with crowds snaking across the south bank of the River Thames, beyond Tower Bridge.
But spirits remain high. A ticketing system allows people to go in and out of the queue, while authorities brought in portable toilets and other facilities to make the wait bearable.
Westminster Hall, where the Queen will lie in state until Monday, is now the heart of commemorations, memories, tributes and the chance for the public to say a very personal goodbye before the world leaders and thousands of guests descend on the city for a funeral years in the planning.
After passing the coffin, many mourners paused to look back before leaving through the hall’s great oak doors. Some were in tears; others bowed their heads or curtseyed. One sank onto a knee and blew a farewell kiss.
Funeral details released
Away from the crowds, King Charles III spent the day in private to reflect on his first week on the throne – and seven days on from the death of his mother.
The Queen’s coffin will lie in state at Westminster Hall until Monday, when it will be taken across the street to Westminster Abbey for the funeral.
Buckingham Palace have released details about the service, the first state funeral held in Britain since the death of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965. Royalty and heads of state from around the world are expected to be among the 2000 people attending, with a smaller one , private burial service planned for later Monday at Windsor Castle.
The queen will be buried at Windsor alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.
The guest list for the state funeral is a roll call of power and pomp, from Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and King Felipe VI of Spain to US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and the prime ministers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
After a day high on emotions and ceremony on Wednesday, as the Queen’s coffin was carried in sombre procession from Buckingham Palace, the King spent Thursday working and in “private reflection” at his Highgrove residence in western England.
Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Princess of Wales, visited the royal family’s Sandringham Estate in eastern England to admire some of the tributes left by well-wishers.
The couple walked slowly along metal barriers as they received bouquets from the public and William told well-wishers that walking behind his grandmother’s coffin on Wednesday had been “challenging” and “brought back memories” of the funeral of his mother, Princess Diana, after her death in 1997, when William was 15.