LONDON - Tens of thousands of mourners, some waiting through the night, queued for hours Thursday to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II on the first full day of her coffin lying in state.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who died a week ago aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, is at rest in Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s state funeral at neighbouring Westminster Abbey. After lining up for two days, the first public mourners were allowed into the vast mediaeval hall late Wednesday afternoon, following the coffin’s ceremonial procession through the packed streets of central London from Buckingham Palace.

Since then, a steady stream of people has continued to file past the queen’s casket, with thousands waiting through the night for their chance to say farewell to the country’s figurehead. Her casket, mounted on a platform, is draped in the Royal Standard flag and bearing the Imperial State Crown plus her ceremonial Orb and Sceptre, with tall, flickering candles standing at each corner.

“It was very beautiful, moving,” said Sarah Mellor, noting it was also very quiet inside the cavernous hall, the oldest part of Britain’s centuries-old parliament. “There is the sense of history here,” added the visibly moved Mellor, who had queued for seven hours.

 The sombre atmosphere was completed with guards in ceremonial uniform posted around the podium in a constant vigil.

One fainted overnight, in a sign of the toll standing vigil can take.

All Britain’s national newspapers carried poignant pictures of the historic scene on their covers.

“Nation’s turn to say farewell,” the Daily Telegraph headlined on its front page.

Mourners marked their moment in front of the coffin in various ways, from bows or curtsies to the sign of the cross or by simply removing their hats.

Some wiped away tears with tissues. Others brought infants in pushchairs. Old soldiers stopped and gave one last salute to their former commander-in-chief.