Chrissie Heerey said it was going to be “one of the highlights of her life” after being the final person to be admitted to Westminster Hall on Monday morning.
It was the second time she had seen the Queen’s coffin, rejoining the queue after visiting the lying in state just hours before.
“It is so quick and it’s so momentous. I didn’t feel as if I had done it justice,” she told The Independent outside Westminster Hall.
Hundreds of thousands of members of the public have visited the Queen’s coffin lying in state in London since Thursday.
The process has seen a river of mourners along the Thames around the clock as they awaited their turn.
The final mourners to visit the coffin left Westminster Hall at 6.30am on Monday, as preparations were made to move the coffin to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral later in the morning.
Ms Heerey said it felt “very special” and she was “very honoured” to be the last person to pay their respects to the Queen at the lying in state. “I felt a real privilege to be able to do that,” she told The Independent.
She added: “I tried to be the last person because I had already been round once. I had already been in at 1.15am this morning and I didn’t want to stop anybody else going through because I thought there was going to be a cut off.”
Ms Heerey, who is a civilian member of the Royal Air Force, said she wanted to return as the process is “so quick” and “so momentous”. “I didn’t feel as if I had done it justice. So I wanted to pay my respects.”
She was just behind Sima Mansouri, who says she was the second-to-last person to see the Queen’s coffin. Ms Mansouri tells The Independent she believes the two women will be “friends for life” after meeting in the queue.
The 54-year-old, who was born in Iran and has lived in London for 25 years, is emotional as she describes going inside Westminster Hall on Monday morning.
“It was the last goodbye wasn’t it. It’s history, it’s love, it’s peace. It’s just too much to explain. I think you don’t know what its like until you get there and see her and feel her presence,” she says.
She said it was “astounding” to be one of the last to see the Queen’s coffin - which she queued more than 10 hours for.
Ray Winstone, a 61-year-old London tour guide, also claimed to have been the second-to-last person to see the coffin on Monday.
Mr Winstone told The Independent he joined the queue at 6.30pm the night before with his family, but had to drop his daughters back home when they got too tired. He headed back and said he was the last person to join the queue before it was closed off.
He told The Independent he did try to be the last, but decided to allow another woman the “privilege”.
Mr Winstone said it was “very surreal” and a “little bit emotional” to have seen the Queen’s coffin. “But it was worth it,” he adds.