London is preparing to welcome a million visitors for the Queen’s state funeral.
The huge influx of mourners wanting to pay their respects will stretch even this great city and is already leading to road closures and a scarcity of hotel rooms.
At Buckingham Palace, weekend crowds have dwindled and been replaced by an army of builders erecting barriers and TV camera towers to broadcast the funeral around the world.
Royal super fan John Loughrey – who is camping near the palace for 10 days – has no doubt the world will see something special.
“We will give Her Majesty the Queen the greatest farewell ever, and that is what we are doing.”
It’s not just the locals who come in droves. Mourners have come from afar, like Remy from France.
“I really want to share this vibe with the English and the British, and maybe with you from the Commonwealth in New Zealand. For me, I have goosebumps now.”
Sarmanth flew to London from Sri Lanka just Monday.
“I love her. All of Sri Lanka loves the Queen. We’ve been under their rules for a long time.”
Controlling the huge crowds over the next few days will not be easy.
One man helping to make sure everything goes smoothly is the event’s health and safety manager and New Zealander Neil Harrison from Levin.
“This one has been in the planning stage for a long time. It’s called Operation London Bridge, it’s been a big secret, until now.”
Harrison was not the only Kiwi found in London on Tuesday.
Government Minister Andrew Little has been in the city for a few days for long-planned Five Eyes security talks.
“We all feel the significance of the event, everyone here feels it. I managed to make it to Buckingham Palace to lay flowers and pay my respects.”
Little – as minister responsible for New Zealand’s counter-terrorism security agencies – appreciated the colossal security operation coordinated by British police.
“I can’t imagine the level of planning that will be put in place, and as world leaders come in, especially the President of the United States, a huge security operation around one person. Then you have dozens and dozens more. So a huge burden on the security agencies here.”
For boutiques and souvenir shops like Sharhel’s in Piccadilly Circus, it’s now a race to get new stocks of teaspoons, tea towels and cups that commemorate the state funeral.
“It hasn’t happened yet. Maybe this week, hopefully, or today or tomorrow.”
With the love there is for the Queen from superfans like Loughrey camping outside the palace, any new memories that arrive will be quickly picked up.