‘It’s special to be here’: David Beckham joins queue to pay tribute to Queen

Former England captain recalls receiving his OBE as he waits with thousands of mourners in central London

The former England football captain David Beckham joined the public queue for the Queen’s lying in state, saying it was “special to be here”.

He joined other high-profile figures to have been seen waiting to pay tribute this week, including the former prime minister Theresa May, This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and the Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid.

Beckham, who queued for 13 hours, was appointed an OBE for services to football in June 2003 in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Speaking about paying tribute to the Queen on the football pitch, Beckham told ITV News: “Every time that we stood there when we wore those three lions shirts and I had my armband and we sang God Save the Queen, that was something that meant so much to us.

“Every time that we did it, it was something special. So this day was always going to be difficult, and it’s difficult for the nation, it’s difficult for everyone around the world, because I think everyone is feeling it, and our thoughts are with the family and obviously with everybody here today.

“Because it’s special to be here, to celebrate, and to hear the different stories that people have to say.”

Speaking about joining the queue, he said: “I thought by coming at 2am it was going to be a little bit quieter – I was wrong.”

There was criticism of manner in which other figures, ranging from politicians to television presenters were able to “skip” the long public queue.

Those accused of getting special treatment included This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, who appeared in a separate line from the one joined by members of the public, Beckham and ITV presenter Susanna Reid.

A statement on behalf of Schofield and Willoughby, which was reported by MailOnline, said: “They did not get to pay their respects to the Queen in the same way as queueing members of the public but they filmed in a section put aside for press.”

There has also been controversy over arrangements that have allowed MPs and peers to avoid the queue and take four guests each with them. Their treatment was contrasted with that of others working on the parliamentary estate, such as cleaners and security guards, who queued with the general public.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “It’s symbolic that hard-working security guards, cleaners and catering staff in parliament are treated as second-class citizens.”

The public queue to attend the Queen’s lying in state paused temporarily on Friday when it reached full capacity. Officials stopped people joining the queue entirely at 11.35am at the entrance to Southwark Park in south-east London because of overwhelming demand.

The queue was later reopened but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “Expected queueing time is over 24 hours and overnight temperatures will be cold.” It said the queue might be paused again if it reached capacity.

Beckham said he felt lucky to have spent time with the Queen. When asked whether he had any anecdotes about his experiences with the Queen, he told ITV News: “Probably the most special moment for me was when I received my OBE.

“To receive my OBE, I took my grandparents with me, who were the ones that really brought me up to be a huge royalist and a fan of the royal family, and obviously I had my wife there as well.

“To step up, to get my honour, but then also Her Majesty, to ask questions, to talk, I was so lucky that I was able to have a few moments like that in my life, to be around Her Majesty.”


Jamie Grierson and Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

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