Prince William Tells Mourner That Queen Elizabeth's Funeral 'Will Be Hard'

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Prince William is bracing for a final goodbye to his grandmother Queen Elizbeth ahead of a state funeral for the late monarch on Monday.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, Kate Middleton, greeted mourners outside the Norwich Gates of Sandringham House on Thursday while taking in thousands of touching tributes to the late monarch, who died September 8 at age 96.

"William said he thinks Monday will be hard," Bex Neeve, of Norfolk country, tells PEOPLE.

Neeve, 44, waited more than two hours to see the couple outside Sandringham House, a home that was privately owned by the Queen, and had the chance to speak with them.

"Kate said it's been overwhelming, and she and William are very grateful for everyone being here," Neeve says. "She was emotional. They seemed like they were here to soak up all the love."

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Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham

Chris Jackson/Getty Images Prince William and Kate Middleton

Upon the death of the Queen a week ago, William's father became King Charles III and began his reign. A day later, the new King addressed the nation for the first time and announced that William and Kate, both 40, would inherit the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales, which he and William's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, once held.

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Thursday's outing marked Prince William and Kate's first solo appearance since inheriting the titles.

"You can tell William is his mother's son," Neeve's mother, Sharon Clouting, 64, tells PEOPLE. "He was chatting so easily and very sincere."

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Sarah Tomlinson, from the nearby town of Kings Lynn, was also on hand when William and Kate stepped out at Sandringham House to tour the 30,000 flower bouquets, balloons, notes and other tributes left by well-wishers to honor the late Queen, who traditionally spent the Christmas season at the property.

"I can't believe how together they are," Tomlinson, 51, tells PEOPLE. "They seem to be supporting us rather than us supporting them."

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Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham

Samir Hussein/WireImage Prince William and Kate Middleton

On Wednesday, a coffin carrying the Queen journeyed through London from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall for a five-day lying in state ahead of Monday's funeral.

Prince William joined the king and other members of the royal family, including his brother Prince Harry, in the procession.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Queen Elizabeth II

Kate and Harry's wife, Meghan Markle, were visibly emotional as the monarch's coffin, which was topped with the Imperial State Crown and draped with the Royal Standard, arrived at the medieval hall.

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Early Monday morning, the coffin will move to nearby Westminster Abbey for the state funeral for the Queen, who reigned for a record-breaking 70 years.

The royal family will be joined by diplomats and dignitaries from around the world to bid farewell before the monarch will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel area of St. George's Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle beside her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, her sister, Princess Margaret, and her parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother.