A man was arrested ‘following a disturbance’ in Westminster Hall, where the Queen is lying in state, after reports of someone running up the steps to the catafalque and touching the coffin.
The Metropolitan police were said to have rushed to detain the man just before 10 pm on Friday, the second full day that mourners had been able to pay their respects to the former monarch, just hours after senior royals held a vigil.
Officers tackled the man to the ground last night after he pushed his way through the queue, knocking aside a seven-year-old girl, in a scramble up to the coffin in the center of the hall in London and then touched the Queen’s casket, even lifting the Royal Standard that was draped over it.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the incident happened around 10 p.m., when the live feed from inside the hall cut out for a brief moment. A spokesperson told MailOnline today that a man was arrested in Westminster Hall on suspicion of a public order violation and is still being held.
Eyewitnesses today described the man’s odd, even erratic, behaviour in the run-up to the security scare. Speaking to MailOnline, Jon Williams, who queued with the coffin-pusher before the incident unfolded, said: ‘He stood out to me as we were in the queue for 14 hours from start to end and he was some way ahead of us, even so we noticed him as he stood out.’
‘And he only stood out as most people in the queue were talking to each other and interacting however he wasn’t. I saw a few people next to him trying to strike up conversation but he seemed to keep himself to himself.’
‘He got to the coffin and seemed to lift up the flag, he didn’t try to pull out off from what I could see. As I said people were in shock although they seemed to try to carry on. What surprised me is the guards didn’t appear to move or help, it was all left to the police.’
Another mourner who saw the incident described how a well-wisher ‘screamed’ when she saw the man running at the coffin. They said: ‘We saw him (the man) in the queue from the beginning of the queue and throughout the day, he was by himself. When we entered the room we were at the top of the stairs when we saw the incident. A lady screamed as it happened it was quite unnerving. Although he was detained and people kept calm and carried on.’