A man born behind the Iron Curtain in the former Czechoslovakia said the Queen represented everything he longed for growing up.

John Karban, who is 61 and lives in Liphook, said he was now “British through and through” having lived here “a very long time”.

But he has not forgotten his roots and recognises the contrast between the nation of his birth and the one he calls home.

He said: “My parents escaped the Communist regime and the Queen epitomises freedom, democracy, decency, the rule of law and symbolism – all the things not there under the Communist regime – so I’m perhaps more British having come from that.

“I appreciate what this country means maybe more than people who take it for granted. It surprises me and I value that.”

John watched the state funeral with his wife Wendy, also 61, at The Living Room Cinema in Liphook.