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How the queue itself for the lying-in-state became a phenomenon

Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8 invoking an outpouring of public emotion in the UK and beyond. On September 14 the Queen’s coffin was placed in Westminster Hall, which was open to the public for them to pay their respects. However, it was the particularly long queue trailing through central London that has garnered a lot of attention.

At its longest the queue stretched 16 km (10 miles) and the lengthiest waiting time was 24 hours. Despite pre-warning about little or no opportunity to sit and the queue constantly slowly moving it would appear few were discouraged.

As ever larger numbers joined the queue, which began last Monday when one enthusiastic member of the public arrived 48 hours prior to the opening of the lying-in-state last Wednesday, it began to capture the public’s imagination.

There became a Youtube channel dedicated to the queue, plus official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, live footage broadcast by the BBC of the slowly shuffling stream of people.

It has been estimated that around 750,000 people have observed the lying-in-state. The huge numbers required its own infrastructure, with 500 portable toilets set up, additional train services were set up to accommodate the influx of people.

All queuers were given a wristband to enable them to temporarily leave the queue to visit the toilet or get a drink.

The queue became unmanageable due to the number of people on Friday, leading to authorities temporarily closing it. There have been a range of people lining up, including ex-England football captain David Beckham.

Mr Beckham commented: “We have been lucky as a nation to have had someone who has led us the way her majesty has led us, for the amount of time, with kindness, with caring and always reassurance.”

He went on to say, “I think that’s the one thing that we all felt safe and we will continue that with the royal family. But I think her majesty was someone special and will be missed, not just by everyone in our country but everyone around the world.”

The lying-in-state came to an end on Monday at 6:30 GMT as a bearer party took the coffin from the catafalque and carried it to the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. The funeral ceremony will begin at 12:00 CET.


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