Former Army and Navy servicemen, with almost half a century of military service between them, have paid their respects to the Queen.
Martin Lloyd, 52, who joined the army at just 16 years old and served in the Corps of Royal Engineers, left Newcastle at 3AM this morning, but arrived to see that Westminster was already packed.
He said: “It’s a very emotional time. I thought it’d be busy but I had no idea.”
His love for the Queen started early, when he saw her on a school trip to a royal procession.
He said: “I remember her waving to us out of the car when we were kids. She’s been the monarch all my life.
“She was popular because of the dedication to duty, her devotion to the country. She was an ambassador for Britain across the world, an example to us all.”
Lloyd was optimistic about the reign of King Charles III.
He said: “I think Charles has had the best apprenticeship anyone could ask for.
“He’s started with phenomenal spirit and determination.”
Duncan Jewell, 47, from Plymouth, served in the Royal Navy for 25 years, said: “She was my Commander-in-Chief. I’ve seen her a number of times throughout my career. She was an amazing person.
“I’m proud to be a veteran, I’m proud to be British, I’m proud to be here. This is Great Britain, this is us together.”
King Charles has “big boots to fill”, according to Jewell, but he is going to be a “brilliant king”.
Duncan Woolley, 58, who travelled from Puerley to pay his respects to the Queen today, served in the Royal Navy for eight years as chef before spending 28 years in prison service.
Woolley reminisced about the time he served Prince Andrew cucumber sandwiches in 1985 when the Duke of York was a Lieutenant.
He said: “I made cucumber sandwiches, and that was all he ate, one cucumber sandwich”.
Woolley spoke optimistically about the new king, saying King Charles is an “amazing chap”.
“I’m so happy he’s our king now, I’m full of admiration for him.”
The late Queen’s funeral is being held today at Westminster Abbey, with 2,000 guests expected to attend, including heads of state, key workers and volunteers, and famous faces including David Attenborough and Bear Grylls.
The Queen died last Thursday at the age of 96.