Georgians pay respects to the late Queen Elizabeth during trip for paintball event

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:55 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - “It was everything.”

That’s what many people said about their experience walking by the coffin of the late Queen. And that’s after waiting in line for hours. Thursday was the first full day for the general public to do that. And at least to the people I spoke to, it was an experience they will never forget.

CBS46 is in London, covering all the events and commemorations taking place leading up to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral next Monday. The Queen died last week at the age of 96.

“Absolutely amazing to be in there,” Londoner Stella told me. “I waited six hours to get in and it was worth every minute of it, really.” I spoke to Stella and her friend Maya as they emerged from Westminster Palace, where the Queen’s flag-draped coffin lies in state.

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“I’m of a completely different faith,” said Maya. “I said the prayer that I would normally say if a member of my family died, which was a very short prayer, a minimal one. I whispered it to myself because it felt like I can’t come all this way and not do that for (the Queen).”

As Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth was the head of the Church of England. She was also head of the UK’s armed forces.

“I took an allegiance to serve Queen and country back in 1999,” said Nick Wilson, a veteran of several armed conflicts. He traveled 75 miles in his wheelchair for the chance to honor Queen Elizabeth in person. He was emotional, talking about the time he spent inside Westminster. “It, I think it is everything. I feel I’m disabled because of my service but I’m grateful for my disabilities because they help me to help other people. And so being able to stand up, just about, and bang out a salute to her one more time, someone that I dedicated all of my life to…” He couldn’t finish the sentence, though it wasn’t necessary to understand what he wanted to say.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: QUEEN ELIZABETH II: The death and funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II

I even managed to find some Americans. Georgians, no less. Grant from Marietta and Eric from Suwanee. No, they did not specifically come to London for this occasion. “We’re over here for a paintball event actually, event, a tournament,” said Grant. “But we came down here to pay our respects and just take a look, see what everybody’s doing.” It’s quite a scene, I said. “It sure is. A lot of people down here. It’s good to see everybody paying their respects and we’re enjoying our time.”

Imagine coming for paintball and witnessing history, even if the United State’s history involves a Revolutionary War aimed at getting away from kings and queens.

“It’s part of history,” Eric said. “I mean we’ve broken away from it but it’s still interesting to see.”

People can line up to say their goodbyes through the weekend, up until the Queen’s coffin is moved to the famous Westminster Abbey, where her funeral will be on Monday.