By mid-morning the queue of people waiting for a glimpse of Richard III’s coffin at Leicester Cathedral stretched around the block past the appropriately named King’s News newsagents.
Bradley Dubbs, from Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, was first in line at 6.30am. The 62-year-old “history buff” said walking past the Yorkist king’s remains had seemed “unreal.” “I came here out of a feeling of wanting to pay my respects,” he added.
He had brought a sprig of the broom plant to place inside the cathedral - its name in old French is planta genista, referencing Richard’s Plantagenet lineage.
Thousands of people today queued for a glimpse of Richard III’s coffin 530 years after he fell in battle. People will also have a chance to pay their respects tomorrow and Wednesday. On Thursday he will be reburied and his remains will be lowered into a purpose-built tomb made of Yorkshire Swaledale stone, before visitors are allowed back inside the cathedral to see the completed memorial the following day.
Behind Mr Dubbs was Richard Heald, from Edinburgh, but once of Leicester.
His three daughters had attended Leicester grammar school, and their old playground was right next to the council car park where the king’s skeleton had lain forgotten.
“I just want to pay respects before he’s put in his tomb,” he said.
Seeing the coffin, covered in a dark pall and flanked by Armed Forces veterans, he called it “amazing and beautiful.”
“It’s quite nice inside - people are being reverent but without being gushing,” he added.
Former prison inspector, teacher and University of Leicester alumni, David Davies had travelled from Bristol, as he does every year to mark the wedding anniversary of his wife who died eight years ago - this year it fell on Sunday.
I came here out of a feeling of wanting to pay my respectsBradley Dubbs, of Atlanta, Georgia
The 80-year-old said he felt it “a very fitting memorial”.
“With such a chequered history, even after death, it does still demand recognition as he is a king,” he added.
The scenes followed yesterday’s solemn service of compline at the cathedral, where Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, had described Richard as a man born of his own time - “a child of war”.
Bishop of Leicester the Rt Rev Tim Stevens said there was “a tone of recognition” in the city and today’s queues reflected that.
Before yesterday’s service there had been spectacular and almost celebratory scenes as more than 35,000 lined the route of a procession through the county and city of Leicester, as Richard travelled from the University of Leicester to the cathedral. His cortege also passed near to the place at Bosworth battlefield where he is thought to have died.
Richard III had close connections to York and Yorkshire and events will also be held in York, where many believe he should have been lain to rest, celebrating these links. At York Minster, where campaigners argued he had planned to be buried, a Choral Evensong will be held at 5.15pm on Thursday, before a procession from the Minster’s South Door at 6.20pm, along Stonegate to St Helen’s Square and ending up at the Mansion House.
The service of Choral Evensong will include a prayer composed by the Dean of Leicester.
The king’s grave site had been thought lost to history until archaeologists discovered the monarch’s skeleton in the remains of an old monastery beneath a Leicester City Council car park.