Two mothers traveled 300 miles from Northumberland to London to see the Queen in bed after making a promise to each other as a teenager.
Royalists Ainsley Blackburn, 36, and Gemma Morton, 36, decided when they were around 14 that they would make the trip to the capital to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II on her death. The couple, who attended Ashington High School in Ashington together, joined the long queue just before 11 a.m. Thursday morning.
Gemma, who lives in Stakeford, had brought with her two pictures that her children Lucas, eight, and Jake, five, had drawn for the UK’s longest-serving monarch. One image contained a drawing of the Queen and the other a drawing of Paddington. She planned to lay them alongside the floral tributes that have already been left in Green Park.
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Ainsley and Gemma lined up alongside thousands of other people along the bank of the Thames on Thursday afternoon. Ainsley, who lives in Ashington, said they both recently lost their grandmothers, which added to the emotion they felt when the Queen died at Balmoral in Scotland a week ago.
Ainsley, who is mum to Layla, four, said: “We love the Queen and we always had a pact that we would come down if that happened. We said we would from the age of 14. .
“We don’t know her personally, but we’ve both lost our grandmothers in the past two years. She was the grandmother of the nation! We want to come and pay our respects.
“She gave us her whole life and she makes you proud to be British. She worked until she was 96 and two days before she died. She was just amazing. We wanted to be here to feel the ‘atmosphere.”
Gemma, who works as a police officer for Northumbria Police, said: “It doesn’t matter what our circumstances were, we were coming to London! My grandmother died four months ago and that brings all the emotion back.
“I love everything the Queen stands for. She was thrown in, it wasn’t meant to be her, but she accepted it and made it her life’s duty. I love that we have a Royal family.
“She’s the only stability we had in our country right now. She was our stability no matter what.”
Ainsley, who works as a general receptionist, said they have always been fans of the Royal Family, especially Queen Elizabeth. She said: “The Queen has always been number one! We had a jubilee party in the summer in the garden.”
Gemma added: “We would have come for Prince Philip’s funeral but due to covid restrictions we couldn’t. It made it even more important for us to come down now.”
The Queen died on Thursday September 8 at the age of 96, after more than 70 years on the throne. Her Majesty was brought from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster in a procession through central London on Wednesday afternoon. She will rest in state at Westminster Hall until her funeral on Monday.