London is preparing for a possible 1 million visitors for the Queen’s state funeral.
The huge influx of mourners wanting to pay their respects will stretch even this great city and is already leading to closed roads and scarcity of hotel rooms.
At Buckingham Palace, the weekend crowds have thinned and been replaced by an army of builders erecting barriers and TV camera towers to beam the funeral around the world.
Royal superfan John Loughrey – who is camping near the Palace for 10 days – has no doubt the world will see something special.
“We will give Her Majesty the Queen the biggest send-off ever known, and that’s what we’re doing.”
It is not just locals turning out in droves. Mourners have come from far and wide, like Remy from France.
“I really want to share this vibe with the English and British people, and maybe you from the Commonwealth as New Zealand. For me, I have goosebumps now.”
Sarmanth flew to London from Sri Lanka just on Monday.
“I love her. All of Sri Lanka, they love the Queen. We are under their rules a long time ago.”
Controlling the huge crowds over the next few days will not be easy.
One man helping make sure all it goes well is event health and safety officer and New Zealander Neil Harrison from Levin.
“This one’s been in the planning stage for a long time. It’s called Operation London Bridge, it’s a big secret, has been up until now.”
Since the death of the Queen, front cover news in London is focused on the royal family. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro
Harrison was not the only Kiwi found in London on Tuesday.
Government minister Andrew Little has been in the city for a few days for long planned Five Eyes security talks.
“We all feel a significance of the event, everybody here does. I managed to get to Buckingham Palace to lay some flowers and pay my respects.”
The crowd outside the palace gates has thinned as barriers are installed ahead of the state funeral. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro
Little – as the minister in charge of New Zealand’s anti-terror security agencies – was appreciative of the mammoth security operation being co-ordinated by UK police.
“I can’t imagine just the level of planning that will be going into this, and as world leaders arrive, particularly the President of the United States, a huge security operation around just that one person. Then you’ve got dozens and dozens of others. So, a huge burden on the security agencies around here.”
Crowds are reportedly queuing to view the floral tributes to the Queen placed at Green Park in London. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro
For the shops and souvenir stores like Sharhel’s in Piccadilly Circus, it is now a race to get new stock of teaspoons, tea towels and mugs that commemorate the state funeral.
“It didn’t come yet. Maybe hopefully this week or today or tomorrow.”
With the love there is for the Queen from superfans like Loughrey camping outside the palace, any new memorabilia that does arrive will be snapped up fast.