'Proud to have been her subject': RAF servicewoman is last person to bid farewell to the Queen
It was a "honor" to serve Her Majesty, according to the final individual to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II when she was laying in state at Westminster Hall. Christina Heerey, a member of the Royal Air Force, was the final mourner who bid the Queen goodnight before the gates were closed early on Monday morning, Sept 19.
A High Wycombe resident, Heerey expressed her pride at having the opportunity to pay tribute to the person to whom she "swore my allegiance." The servicewoman went twice through the line, which over the course of five days saw an estimated 400,000 mourners, because she "didn't feel as though I'd done it justice." According to Heerey, she will remain in London all day to observe Her Majesty's funeral, which starts at 11am.
On the national bank holiday, up to two million mourners are anticipated to swarm to London, Windsor, and other royal locations around the UK for the historic burial, which is projected to draw an estimated 4.1 billion TV viewers worldwide.
Around 6.30 am on Monday, Sept 19, Heerey was led out of Westminster Hall by parliamentary officials, saying, "It is honour. I currently serve in the Royal Air Force so to be able to do that on behalf of the Royal Air Force and a female to an amazing lady that will never be replaced, it was an honour. Obviously, I swore my allegiance to her and I just feel very proud being in the Air Force and being one of her subjects for her."
Ms. Heerey originally joined the line about 5 o'clock on Sunday and left the casket at 1.15 a.m. on Monday. She said that she was forced to go back through.
"Walking into the hall the first time...I felt that I needed to go through again, so I just obviously came through last of all then," she said. "It's so quick and it's so momentous. I didn't feel as though I'd done it justice. I just felt very proud that I was there and just very honoured, very honoured that I was given the privilege to go through again and obviously be the last person. I didn’t realise it was going to be like this."
Despite spending around 14 hours in line, Ms. Heerey, who came to the city from nearby High Wycombe, said it was "14 hours well spent." She said: "There were a lot of people (inside Westminster Hall) but everybody was very solemn, everybody was very respectful. Everybody gave each other room so they could have that final moment."
The servicewoman described seeing history unfold as "amazing," and she hopes to continue doing so when she stays in London for the burial procession. "It will be a long day but well worth it,' Ms Heerey explained. 'I’m never going to do this again in my lifetime."