The retired soccer pro, 47, was one of thousands of mourners to pay respects at Westminster Hall, where the queen’s casket has been held since her royal procession from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, September 14. According to the Daily Mail, Beckham waited 13 hours in a queue extending five miles before finally being able to approach the coffin.
Cameras caught the British athlete wiping away his tears as he waited inside the chapel on Friday, September 16. He later shielded his face with his hands as he stood with others hoping to bid farewell to the monarch.
Wearing a black suit and matching cap, Beckham expressed his sincere condolences to the royal family for their loss. “I was so lucky I was able to have a few moments in my life to be around Her Majesty,” he told ITV News on Friday. “[This is] a sad day but it’s a day to remember the incredible legacy she left. … It’s special to be here to celebrate, and to hear the different stories that people have to say.”
The former Manchester United star noted that his family always had a soft spot for Elizabeth, who died at age 96 on September 8 at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. “I grew up in a household of royalists and I was brought up that way,” he said. “I know that [my grandparents] would have wanted to be here, so I’m here on their behalf and on behalf of my family.”
In June 2003, Beckham was appointed an OBE (Order of the British Empire) as part of Her Majesty’s annual list of birthday honors. The title was bestowed to recognize his impressive soccer career.
“Every time that 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,” he told ITV on Friday, reflecting on his time representing England on the field. “Every time that we did it, it was something special. So this day was always going to be difficult, and 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.”
The L.A. Galaxy alum was one of dozens of celebrities who honored the queen after news broke of her death earlier this month. “What an outpouring of love and respect we saw for the Platinum Jubilee for her life of service,” Beckham captioned an Instagram carousel of black-and-white photos from Elizabeth’s reign on Thursday. “How devastated we all feel today shows what she has meant to people in this country and around the world. How much she inspired us with her leadership. How she comforted us when times were tough. Until her last days she served her country with dignity and grace. This year she would have known how loved she was. My thoughts and prayers are with our Royal Family.”
Earlier this year, David and his wife, Victoria Beckham, hosted a lunch for MBE recipients during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, where the Salford City co-owner reflected on his first meeting with the queen 20 years prior.
“[She asked], ‘How’s Victoria, how’s the kids?'” David recalled. “I couldn’t even answer, it was an incredible moment.”
The couple’s history with the royal family extends beyond Her Royal Highness. In May 2018, David and the former Spice Girl attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s wedding at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The pair also made an appearance at Prince William‘s nuptials to Princess Kate in April 2011.