WEDDINGS, babies, this. 

Wendy Davidson rhymes off her list of life milestones as her friend Jill Latimer nods beside her.

The two women, and looking remarkably fresh for it, have survived the phenomenon known as The Queue and are reflecting on the experience.

Mrs Latimer and Mrs Davidson, from County Armagh, had already had a weekend in London booked before the news of the Queen’s death broke but they knew they would use this trip to pay tribute to a woman who has been an important figure in both their lives.

The pair set an alarm for 4am on Saturday to be up in plenty of time to join the line to see Her Majesty lying in state but Mrs Latimer’s phone battery died and they were upset to find it was already 5.30am when they woke.

But the mistake turned out to be a fortunate one as their position in the queue coincided with the vigil held by Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren. 

Mrs Davidson, a teacher, said: “We joined the queue at 6.09am and got into Westminster Hall at 5.37pm.

“My father is 97 and still has all his medals and I wanted to represent him as much as myself.

“We watched the changing of the guard and then went past the coffin and curtsied and said a prayer.

“I was a wee bit overwhelmed so when we came out of the Hall we took a moment so I could collect myself.

“Jill slapped me on the arm and said, ‘There’s the grandchildren’. 

"I didn’t believe her right away but there they were, we saw them going in and it was lovely, seeing them was the icing on the cake.”

The pair made friends with a group of other women in the queue and have set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch, with plans to return to London together for King Charles’s coronation. 

Mrs Davidson described a jovial atmosphere in the queue with “plenty of craic” but as soon as she stepped inside Westminster Hall the mood was one of deep respect.

Mrs Davidson said: “I was raised in a loyalist background and the royal family is very important to us so it was important to me to come and say goodbye.

“I feel I have grown up with her and I’m glad I am going home now to watch the funeral because I think it’s important my children know this is a family event and that we all sit down together for it.

“Weddings, babies, this – that’s the order of events in our lives.”

Around Westminster Abbey in the late afternoon, tents were being erected on pavements by people determined to be at the very front of the crowds as they gather today to watch the Queen’s cortege move from the church on its journey to Windsor.

HeraldScotland: Catriona StewartCatriona Stewart (Image: Catriona Stewart)

Along Parliament Street music was playing as people shared stories and snacks and chatted back and forth with the police lining the streets. 

Workmen with a flatbed truck were busy removing traffic lights from the middle of the street to allow the funeral procession unrestricted passage.

Despite packed pavements and a time-consuming one-way system around Westminster, there was very little grumbling from people make their way around. 

HeraldScotland: Catriona StewartCatriona Stewart (Image: Catriona Stewart)

Kim Taylor, a netball team captain from Dunstable, and two of her team mates, Lisa Smith and Loren Chapman, were setting up camping chairs at the metal barriers on Parliament Street.

Ms Taylor had planned to come to London for the funeral alone but when she mentioned it at team practice her two “crazy friends” insisted on joining her.
The trio planned to pass the night with card games and had brought a lantern and good food to see them through the night.

Ms Taylor said: “I just love the royals. We are one of the only countries that do what we do.

“I had been to the Queen’s Garden Party in 2006 and she has been to Dunstable and nearby areas over the years so I feel she’s important to me.

“As a country we do things right, and I wanted to be here first hand to pay my respects and take part in this historic event in person.”

Mrs Smith added: “Certain things happen in your life and you remember where you were.

“At Princess Diana’s funeral I remember my mum and my grandad going to the motorway bridge to watch her coffin go by so I wanted that sort of memory in my life.

“We were so nervous coming down but now there is just a feeling of it being the right thing to do and a bit of an adventure.”

As the sky darkened around 7pm, Big Ben glowed with the orange gold light of the dipping sun and a light drizzle began to fall across the capital.

Those camping out had been hoping the evening would stay dry but the rain was met with good humour. 

In what would have been too much, had it been scripted in a film, a perfect, unbroken rainbow circled over the many spires of the Westminster skyline. 

HeraldScotland: Catriona StewartCatriona Stewart (Image: Catriona Stewart)

Elsewhere, it was still business as usual for Londoners trying to make their normal way across the capital despite diversions and road closures.

Despite all the pomp happening across the river, at Embankment, where the queue to view the lying in state still waited, a man under a blue polyester sleeping bag looked at passers by. “Spare some change, please?”