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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Robert Mendick

Wend it like Beckham – football great waits 13 hours to see Queen Elizabeth lying in state

Former England football star David Beckham (pictured yesterday) started queueing at 2am thinking he would beat the crowds. He was wrong

No doubt David Beckham could have procured himself a VIP pass.

But instead, the former England captain and multi-millionaire, did what every other ordinary well-wisher wanting to pay their respects to the late queen had to do: He queued. And queued. And queued.

At 3.18pm and after more than 13 hours of wait, Beckham finally reached his goal, shuffling past the queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, where she has been lying in state since Wednesday evening.

Beckham, agile at evading tackles in his playing days, thought he would dodge the worst of the Queue, by arriving at 2am yesterday.

Only to discover, alas, that tens of thousands of others had had the same idea.

The result was that the Queue never really diminished in the night – as organisers had hoped – and by mid-morning had steadily grown to the point where it had to be closed to new arrivals. The British government called it “a pause”.

In a bizarre twist – and perhaps this could only happen in queue-happy Britain – there then formed another queue to join the Queue. This second queue – and here it gets truly surreal – spawned a third queue to reach the second queue to reach the Queue.

Anybody confused by this – and who wouldn’t be? – should feel sympathy at least for the tens of thousands of people desperately trying to see the late queen lying in state before the cut-off time of 6.30am on Monday, the day of her state funeral.

Hundreds of thousands of people are set to be bitterly disappointed and will miss out. For those that persevere, Beckham’s 13-hour wait will now seem like child’s play.

By last night, the official time to reach the front was more than a full 24 hours.

Beckham (47) dressed in fashionable cloth cap, overcoat, jacket, white shirt and black tie, can now count himself as one of the lucky ones to have made it to the front.

“I thought by coming at 2am it was going to be a little bit quieter – I was wrong,” Beckham told ITV News after successfully negotiating the never-ending Queue.

“Everybody had that in mind. Everybody wants to be here and part of the experience and celebrate what Her Majesty has done for us.”

Beckham spoke with emotion about what the late queen had meant to him.

He had, of course, met her on a number of occasions. “The most special moment,” he said, was when receiving his OBE.

“I took my grandparents with me, who were the ones that really brought me up to be a huge royalist and a fan of the royal family, and obviously I had my wife with me there as well,” he recalled.

Showing the kind of camaraderie presumably born of being England captain, Beckham bought fellow queuers doughnuts at about 7am as spirits threatened to flag, according to one Twitter user.

Beckham’s appearance later slowed down the movement of the line.

Not all celebrities did the hard yards however.

Phillip Schofield (60) and Holly Willoughby (41) who present This Morning on ITV, used the VIP route to pay their respects to the monarch.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians were facing a backlash after it emerged they had “direct access” to Westminster Hall and, not only that, but had been given four extra tickets each for family and friends.

In contrast, cleaning staff and caterers working in parliament had no option but to join The Queue.

Numbers are likely to spiral over the weekend.

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