Some bowed. Some curtsied. Others crossed themselves.
Every six seconds, another four people - two deep on each side - paused by the late Queen Elizabeth’s coffin and paid their last respects.
In the half hour I was privileged to observe from a podium at one end of the vast medieval hall, I witnessed 1200 file past the raised sarcophagus, draped in her regal standard, guarded by yeoman and soldiers in their peacock-like ceremonial dress.
These were hardy folk who had waited in line for 12 hours. They weren’t quite a typical representation of the country: they were perhaps a bit older than average - more of them wore uniforms and medals than you’d typically see on a high street - there were fewer ethnic minorities.
Most were sombre, not a few were weeping.
When I was there, at tea time, a distressed David Beckham - who had queued since the very early morning like everyone else - walked past, followed a minute later by a downcast looking Archbishop of Canterbury.
Watch David Beckham visit the Queen's Lying in State
The celebrities and notables were, though, a tiny minority - statistically insignificant, if difficult to ignore.
The immaculate stillness of the soldiers for a full twenty minutes was something to behold, as were their meticulous measured footsteps when it was their turn to rest.
It was a privilege to be allowed to witness this vignette of what it is to be British: pageantry, dignity, tolerance of a long wait, mutual respect.
When I left, the yeomen in their scarlet finery had their feet up on the benches of New Palace Yard.
In a way, that was the most touching image of all, both so ordinary and extraordinary.
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