Suffolk and Essex mourners speak of ‘disbelief’ in seeing King and Prince of Wales

Published: 1:43 PM September 19, 2022 Updated: 3:30 PM September 19, 2022 Two Suffolk women and an Essex family were in disbelief when they visited the Queen's coffin in London and had a chat with King Charles III and the Prince of Wales. 

Sam Webb, 51 and her sister-in-law Lizzie Clements, 53, who live near Long Melford, were waiting in a queue of tired mourners at Lambeth Bridge when a security guard said 'you will be alright, we have got a surprise for you.'  Then a burgundy car pulled up bearing the Royal Standard and out stepped the newly crowned Monarch and his son to have a chat with the waiting crowd, which had already been queuing for 12 hours in chilly weather on Saturday morning.

Sam Webb and Lizzie Clements, from near Long Melford, while queuing to see the Queen lying-in-state

Sam Webb and Lizzie Clements, from near Long Melford, while queuing to see the Queen lying-in-state

Sam Webb and Lizzie Clements, from near Long Melford, while queuing to see the Queen lying-in-state - Credit: SAM WEBB Mrs Webb said: "At Lambeth Bridge, they closed the queue behind us.

They all crowded us into a point and the security man said 'don't worry, you will be really pleased in a while.'  "Then they just arrived. They spoke to everyone who was in the queue.

They thanked everyone for coming and for making the effort and wanted to know how long everyone had been out."  She said they spent about 30 minutes chatting to the queue, which included people not just from the UK, but also from other countries including Spain and Canada. 

King Charles asked how long the visitors had been queuing

King Charles asked how long the visitors had been queuing

King Charles asked how long the visitors had been queuing - Credit: SAM WEBB The pair, who work for family firm Webb Truck Equipment at Acton, travelled to the capital by train from Colchester at midnight on Saturday, having decided to make the trip for friends who would have liked to, but were unable to do so due to family commitments. 

"We just thought we should really. We all chatted and we thought, 'well, there were a few people who said they would like to go, but we can't walk that far and we have got kids, so we thought well, we are fit enough to do it, so we went down for everyone who could not'", Mrs Webb said.  She described how well organised the queue was with the Salvation Army providing coffees to the crowd, while representatives of different faiths were waiting to counsel mourners outside Westminster Hall after they had seen the coffin. 

The Prince of Wales also spoke to those in the queue

The Prince of Wales also spoke to those in the queue

The Prince of Wales also spoke to those in the queue - Credit: SAM WEBB

Despite the challenging conditions and long, slow walk, there was a real sense of community among the walkers, Mrs Webb said and she had made friends from across the world who she intended to keep in touch with.  When they eventually arrived at Westminster Hall after a 14 hour walk, the atmosphere inside was 'quiet and sedate,' while the coffin was well lit by candlelight and the sunlight that was streaming in and reflecting off the Crown Jewels.  Some of the visitors were crying as they passed the Queen, while others were lying on the floor and praying. 

"It was quite a day. Who would have thought we would have made friends and we would keep in touch and then to meet the King and Prince of Wales and see the Changing of the Guard. It was a day we will never forget," she said. 

Colchester woman Catherine Padbury, 28, was with her parents Laraine, 59 and David, 64 in Lambeth Palace Road when they met the Prince of Wales. She said: "I just got completely overwhelmed that they came out to speak to us because they're mourning themselves, and to come out and spend the time talking to us just means so much. "I think he (William) saw that I was crying, paused and asked how the night was, checked that I was OK and asked who I was with."

Fighting back tears, she added: "I hope that it's some comfort to them as well, when they see how much everyone loved Her Majesty."