England football legend David Beckham paid his respects to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday afternoon after queueing for more than 13 hours with other hundreds of thousands of other mourners. Beckham, 47, was spotted in the huge queue as mourners waited in long queues to see the queen's coffin one last time at Westminster Hall before her funeral on Monday.
When he was questioned by television cameras on Friday afternoon, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder claimed he had been waiting since around 2.15 am BST. Interestingly, Beckham said, he was not disturbed by others waiting along with him as they showed mutual respect.
Paying His Last Respects
Beckham, the former England captain, joined mourners in the "Elizabeth line" at 2 am. He was seen wearing a suit that concealed his famous tattoos, a cap, and a Covid mask. He shuffled his way from Southwark Park to Westminster Hall for hours without being seen by anyone.
Beckham claimed he and those around him, who originally assisted in keeping his secret, subsisted on a very unfootballerlike diet of "Pringles, sherbet lemons, sandwiches, coffee, and doughnuts."
"We all want to be here together. We all want to experience something where we celebrate the amazing life of our Queen and I think something like this today is meant to be shared together," he told BBC News.
Beckham told an ITV News reporter that he "grew up in a family of royalists" and that he was here on his behalf his grandparents, who he said would have joined the line if they were still living.
Beckham recounted how fortunate he felt to have met the Queen several times and how proud he was to represent England's national football team.
"You know I always wanted to represent my country, to be captain in my country, and every time that we stood there when we wore those Three Lion shirts, and I had my armband and we sang, you know, 'God save our Queen.' That was something that meant so much to us," he said.
Like an Ordinary Briton
Beckham's decision to join the queue like hundreds of thousands of other mourners has earned him respect in the eyes of Britions. In fact, he was offered to jump the queue by one MP but Beckham decided against doing that.
Finally, around midday, the former midfielder for Manchester United and Real Madrid star's cover was blown as people started sharing the information on social media.
Later, social media was flooded with his photos with many sharing selfies with the footballing legend. One woman who had to stand in line for hours with Beckham told reporters that she had "great respect" for the athlete since he "had paid his respects however he wanted."
"David could have avoided all of the queuing but he wanted to be like everyone else. He said his grandad wouldn't have [jumped the queue] so neither would he. He had been wondering all week when the best time was to go and finally he went for this morning," a source told MailOnline.
"David was brought up in an East End family who were real royalists – the kind who would stand to attention when the national anthem came on. He wanted to go to see the Queen like any other member of the public."
Additionally, Beckham chose to wear a suit because he claimed that is what his 83-year-old grandfather, who passed away in 2009, would have done.
Beckham appeared upset as he passed past the casket to pay his respects after waiting in line for 13 hours. At one point, he appeared to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye. He frequently interacted with the Queen while serving as England's captain, and in 2003, she bestowed the OBE on him.
"Every time we stood there when we wore those Three Lion shirts and I had my armband, and we sang God save our Queen, that was something that meant so much to us. Every time we did it, it was something special," he told reporters.
"So this day was always going to be difficult. It's difficult for the nation, it's difficult for everyone around the world because I think everyone is feeling it, and our thoughts are with the family and obviously with everybody here today. Because it's special to be here, to celebrate and to hear the different stories that people have to say. I thought by coming at 2 am, it was going to be a little bit quieter – I was wrong.
"Probably the most special moment for me was when I received my OBE. I took my grandparents with me, who were the ones that really brought me up to be a huge royalist and a fan of the Royal Family, and obviously, I had my wife there as well. To step up, to get my honor but then also Her Majesty, to ask questions, to talk, I was so lucky that I was able to have a few moments like that in my life.
"Because we can all see with the love that has been shown, how special she was and the legacy she leaves behind. It's a sad day, but it's a day for us to remember the incredible legacy that she's left."
Between 1996 and 2009, Beckham played 115 times for England and scored 17 goals while competing in three World Cups.
He played for Manchester United, Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain throughout a remarkable career, winning six Premier League titles, the Champions League, and other accolades. He retired in 2013.