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The line to see the queen's casket got so long, organizers kept people from joining

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The line to see the queen's casket inside Britain's Parliament building stretches five miles. It became so long today that for some time, organizers stopped letting people join it. From London, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: The line stretches across the river, down the South Bank of the Thames, past some of the city's famous landmarks - the Tate Modern Museum, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Under normal circumstances, this walk takes about an hour and a half. Today...

RUTH DIXON: It's took us 12 hours.

LANGFITT: This is Ruth Dixon (ph). She's a health care assistant who traveled to London with her mother, Dorothy (ph).

DIXON: We've come from the northeast of England, near Sunderland. We left at about quarter to 10 last night. It was a 4 1/2-hour drive. We parked in Wembley. We booked a hotel. And we got an Uber straight to the end of the line at 4 o'clock this morning.

LANGFITT: Dixon said she and her mother felt compelled to make the long drive south to bid farewell to the queen.

DIXON: We were absolutely prepared to do this. We just had to be here. I just think she's absolutely amazing. We'll never have another monarch like her at all.

LANGFITT: About two hours ahead of Dixon in the line was retired English soccer star David Beckham. Here he is speaking to Britain's ITV News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVID BECKHAM: I thought by coming at 2 a.m., it was going to be a little bit quieter. I was wrong. Everybody had that in mind.

LANGFITT: Beckham said Britons were lucky to have had such a kind and reassuring monarch. The former captain of the English national soccer team spent 13 hours in line. When he walked past the Queen's coffin, he paused and bowed, his eyes red and misty. Here he is speaking to reporters afterwards.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BECKHAM: I grew up in a family that were all royalists. And I think back to my grandparents because if my grandparents were alive, they would've been here.

LANGFITT: Of course, the vast majority of people in London aren't planning to see the Queen's coffin. Calice Hutchinson (ph), an art student here, said it never even occurred to her. She was sitting along the South Bank as the line snaked past.

CALICE HUTCHINSON: The younger generation, I kind of feel like we don't really care about the monarchy. They're there, but they don't really do much for people, especially, like, our generation.

LANGFITT: Would you care if the monarchy disappeared?

HUTCHINSON: No. No.

LANGFITT: Hutchinson says most of the time, she forgets Britain has a monarchy. By early evening in London, the British government estimated the waiting time to see the queen's coffin was 22 hours. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.