Royal staff have been left hurt and furious after they were prevented from paying their final respects to Queen Elizabeth II – while MPs and celebrities were apparently fast-tracked to the front. Thousands of people queued, some throughout the night, to get a glimpse of Her Majesty’s coffin at Westminster Hall in advance of today’s state funeral.
Members of the Royal household described as a “kick in the stomach” the fact that MPs have been allowed to jump ahead and bring four guests with them, while pictures of This Morning presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby using a priority media queue have also rankled.
One insider told the Daily Mail: “They have the same Queen as everyone else.
“It’s pretty galling to see some people being given priority over others.”
All 650 MPs were given leave to jump to the front of the public queue, along with members of the House of Lords.
Consequently, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was spotted along with three of his children last week, as was former Prime Minister Theresa May, and Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader.
Some parliamentary staff were likewise fast-tracked – but many others, such as cleaners and security staff who work in Parliament, were told to go to the back of the line due to them being contractors.
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In a statement, the House of Commons said: “It is not possible to open up further access (for staffers) without the risk of impacting access for queueing members of the public.”
More than 1,200 royal staff who worked for the Queen, a large number of whom have been on duty since she died, would have liked to be able to pay their respects, sources have pointed out.
However, the fact that many Royal employees missed out rubs salt into the wound, give staff at both Clarence House and Buckingham Palace are facing redundancy after the accession of King Charles.
Another insider said: “There are a lot of people, particularly at Her Majesty’s estates, who have been dealing with household matters or marshalling the public wanting to come and lay tributes, that haven’t been able to pay their own respects.
“It’s definitely left a bad taste in their mouths, especially when many of them have served her loyalty and are now facing redundancy through no fault of their own.”
Schofield and Willoughby have faced stinging criticism after appearing to jump the queue, with some viewers saying they should be “ashamed of themselves”.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘So Phil and Holly got a fast track to the coffin and didn’t have the common decency to queue along with many elderly or British citizens or even David Beckham. They should feel embarrassed and ashamed, it’s not Alton Towers.’”
Another added: “Holly and Phil. Hang your heads in shame. Totally disgusted in you ‘queue jumping’ no excuse for it whatsoever.”
Former England captain Beckham waited 14 hours in the queue alongside members of the public.
An ITV spokeswoman said: “This Morning had press accreditation and like other media, Phillip and Holly were escorted to work from the press gallery by government staff. They did not file past the Queen’s coffin.
“They were there alongside a host of other broadcasters and national press outlets for an item that will be broadcast on Tuesday’s show. Any allegations of improper behaviour are categorically untrue.”
The Queen’s lying-in-state ended at 6.30am today in advance of the funeral procession, with Chrissy Heerey, from Melton Mowbray, the last person in the queue.
The serving member of the RAF actually queued up twice, saying: “It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here.”