At 4.45 my alarm went off on Monday morning because the Hunt family, like thousands of others, decided to go to The Mall to witness history unfold at the unforgettable funeral of Her late Majesty.
By 6am we were walking through the streets of Westminster on our way to St James Park where we managed to find a spot halfway down The Mall behind the hardy souls who had been camping there all night.
The queue at the coffee kiosk was already massive, but we were in no hurry and I had a nice chat to one of the campers from Farnham, someone called Chris who remembered me being a ref for a team he had coached.
I picked up coffees, hot chocolates and two flat whites for myself to keep myself going. Then back to our spots to sit out the five hours until the service started.
Bringing out our packed breakfasts took up some of the time, as did taking our labrador Poppy for a few strolls round St James Park (and keeping her away from the ducks).
But most of the time was spent soaking up the atmosphere and chatting to the people around us. It was the first time we had done anything like this as a family but I realised that many others were veterans, including a lovely couple from Eastbourne who were right next to us and extremely tolerant of a loud and busy family.
There was a strong feeling of coming together – people of all ages, backgrounds and even countries, which somehow felt like what the Queen would have wanted.
Every time a group of soldiers or police officers walked down The Mall, there was clapping, and then we had cheers as the King, the Prince of Wales and Prince George went past us in their motorcades on the way to the Abbey.
Then the mood changed to solemnity as the service itself started at 11am, brilliantly broadcast through speakers set up the length of The Mall.
I thought the Archbishop’s words about her servant leadership summed up not just why we loved the Queen but why we can learn from her too: ‘those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.’
Everyone joined in for the Lord’s Prayer and the national anthem – at least, the first verse.
Finally, after nearly seven hours, the moment we had been waiting for arrived. The cortege came past our spot and I hoisted up my youngest daughter Ellie so she could see it.
Dignified and timeless, it summed up when at times like this we are all proud of our country and its traditions – and proud of the wonderful lady who symbolised them to the world with such devotion.
I hope my children will one day tell their own children they were there.
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