Propped up at one end by a broken-off marble Ionian capital is a long, slanting wooden board, suggesting a collapsed catafalque .
The catafalque party stood vigil without spectators to honour those who fell during the battle for El Alamein and the airmen and sailors who lie where they fell with no marker.
Eight pall bearers from the Irish Guards lifted it from the gun-carriage and carried it slowly to the catafalque .
Cloaked in Braemar purple felt, surrounded by five large candles and guarded at each corner by an officer of the Household Cavalry in full dress uniform, the catafalque was yesterday afternoon an arresting sight.
By 10 am even the candles surrounding the catafalque were no longer lit but the silence was broken every so often by the whir and click of cameras taking the last photographs of the lying-in-state.
There is something in the air that silences everybody, even small children, as they pass either side of the catafalque , occasionally glancing upwards at the four statues of Saxon kings and the 12 th century roof.
Over the weekend his body lay in state in a silver mounted coffin on a catafalque in front of the Speaker's platform.
The coffin will be placed on a catafalque of rough pine boards, nailed together and covered with black cloth, which was first used for Abraham Lincoln's funeral.
The Queen had already arrived and came to join the procession as it was borne inside to the waiting catafalque and to the start of the lying-in-state.
Why did so many people, including children, queue patiently for hours, to witness Beefeaters and Gentlemen-at-Arms, with reversed halberds, guarding a catafalque in Westminster Hall?