The Daily Mail newspaper of Tuesday 12th February 1952 was a 6 page paper; each page 16 inches wide and 22 inches deep with four & a half paged dedicated to the King’s death – so I have selected a very small extract of its story so I’ll start with the front page headline:
ALL-NIGHT VIGIL AT WESTMINSTER
Butlers, Footmen, Housemaids Pay Their Homage in the Hall of Kings
THREE QUEENS MEET BIER
Mr Churchill and Ministers File Past Catafalque
The Daily Mail Reporter writes: Early this morning a silent crowd of men and women queued at Westminster Hall for the lying-in-state of King George VI. The first mourner arrived at 6.45pm – more than 13 hours before the Hall opens at 8 a.m. today.
Thousands of official mourners filed past the catafalque in a double procession until late last night. They included Ministers, peers, M.P.s, diplomats, and doctors and nurses who attended the King last year. Nearly 1,000 servants from the Royal Household – butlers, footmen, housemaids – were there too.
Among the first to pass through the Hall were Mr. Churchill; Mr. Attlee; Mr. Boyd-Carpenter; and Lord and Lady Woolton. Seven diplomats from the Soviet Embassy in London, including senior Army and Air Force officers, queued with the diplomats of other nations. Giant candles surround the catafalque. Above, the electric lamps high in the roof are shrouded to throw their light into the beams. The guard is changed every 20 minutes.
When the King’s coffin arrived at Westminster Hall for the Lying-in-State, three Queens – one mourning a father, one a husband, one a son – were waiting at the door. The Queen changed the traditional ceremony by which the Primate is the first to receive the cortege.
Outside Big Ben chimed – inside, under the soft yellow light of the 12 chandeliers hung from the vaulted roof of the Great Hall of Westminster, time stood still. From the steps at the south end came the subdued click of polished boots – and the Changing of the Guard began.
Down the carpeted steps marched three Gentlemen-at-Arms in cloaks and plumed hats. With measured steps they marched to the north end and halted before the men they were to relieve. The thick grey carpet muffled their paces as they changed. Then, from the steps at the north-west, came a metallic ring from a halberd. Four Yeomen of the Guard, preceded by an officer, moved towards the catafalque in the centre of the hall.
The only people to see them were the first 100 of a thousand servants of the Royal Households, six police constables at the entrances, and a handful of M.P.s who had stayed longer than their allotted time! The thin black line of servants circled the purple island of the catafalque, their heads bowed and every man and woman dressed in unrelieved black. Butlers, footmen, gamekeepers and housemaids stood there in silence.