Tearful Sarah Boyles, who was there with daughters Scarlett, 11, and Freya, 7, said: “Both my girls were touched by the Queen’s death. We had a fleeting glimpse but it was worth it. We said goodbye. “
52-year-old naval veteran Mark Scott, emblazoned in his Royal Navy medals, rendered his last service to Her Majesty as a steward.
“Security was difficult with so many people, but everything went perfectly,” he said. “It was a solemn and sad day, but we are all honored to be part of history and to help keep people safe.”
At Shaw Farm – where Prince Philip ran the estate – the state hearse stopped briefly to allow the Queen’s walking escort to reform for the final leg of their journey to Windsor Castle.
Earlier in the day, florist Lisa Darban placed her floral crown on a magnificent stand of white roses and heather in homage. Within minutes, a small crowd gathered to admire her work while struggling to hold back tears.
“Datchet Parish Council asked me to create something and this is the result,” said Lisa, 39. “The Queen loved Balmoral and I chose Eryngium [sea holly] because it looks like a thistle. I also used some flowers from my garden.”
At one corner of the tribute was the simple message, “Thank you ma’am,” reflecting the sentiments of the villagers, who each have a tale to tell of encounters with the Queen.
“I often saw her driving around the village and always waved at her,” added Lisa. “She was always waving back and smiling. She’s been a part of our lives for so long.
“When I was a girl I was with the Windsor Horse Rangers where we learned how to groom and ride horses. She supported the rangers and came with us to our headquarters in Hampton Court. We’ve all gotten so used to having her around it’s going to be a tough few days.”
Carol Chambers, 56, and her friend Jo Woolley, 63, traveled from Newcastle to spend the night in Datchet before heading to Windsor.
Carol, a podiatrist, admired Lisa’s floristry and said: “It’s a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a place the Queen knew very well. I’m a total royalist, so I had to be here. When they played the national anthem on TV, we said we always got up.
“You trusted her completely and she never let you down. She treated everyone exactly the same, it’s part of her legacy.”
Charity worker Jo added: “We will be spending two days in Datchet and Windsor to pay our respects. It’s the least we can do for a woman who has dedicated her life to this country.”
Datchet is adjacent to the A308 which connects Windsor to London and formed part of the hearse’s route. It’s a part of Britain steeped in history. Three miles along the River Thames from Windsor is Runnymede, where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215.
Exactly 800 years later, in 2015, the Queen went to the Stone of Magna Carta for the jubilee celebrations.
Her Majesty, then 89, said: “The history of the British monarchy is intertwined with that of Runnymede and Magna Carta. The values of Magna Carta are important not only for the UK and the Commonwealth, but for the whole world. Your principles are important and sustainable.”
These principles of justice, fairness and mutual respect were embodied in the woman laid to rest by her nation yesterday.