As Lying in State Commences, Queue to Pay Respects to Queen Already Two and a Half Miles Long

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: A general view as the coffin carrying Queen Elizabeth II rests in Westminster Hall as the First Guard begins their duty for the Lying-in State on September 14, 2022 in London, England. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of …
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The late Queen Elizabeth II was placed in state in Westminster Hall Wednesday afternoon, but even before the doors of the ancient palace were opened to the public the queue of mourners was already two and a half miles long.

According to a live-update feed from the British government’s Department of Culture, which is managing the queueing system for the Queen’s lying-in-state, with a little less than an hour to go until the Palace would start to admit visitors the queue had already reached two and a half miles. This was up half a mile in just 30 minutes at the time of writing.

The public part of the lying-in-state will commence 1700 (1200EST) London time Wednesday and run through to the early hours of Monday morning, 24-hours-a-day, at which point the hall will be closed for preparations for that day’s Royal Funeral.

While the rapid growth of the queue may slow once people are being admitted to Westminster Hall to pay their respects, as the working day ends and the public have more free time the line may surge again. The same impact will likely be felt come the weekend, when many will travel from across the country, from Europe, and from the world, for a chance to pay final respects.

A helper wears an information banner that reads “Lying-In-State, Queue Starts Here” at the end of the queue at South Bank, to see Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin lying in state at Westminster Hall, in London, UK, on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Photographer: Betty Laura Zapata/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Remarkably it is estimated wait times in the queues at their peak, probably over the weekend, could hit 30 hours. A gruelling wait but also, perhaps, an indication of the strength of feeling and admiration for the Queen. The government has warned of “significant wait times, including possibly overnight”.

It is perhaps fitting for the British — renowned worldwide, affectionately if tongue-in-cheek for their legendary prowess at waiting in line — that the end of the Queen’s record-breaking 70-year reign should end in one of the world’s longest queues. Special extra facilities including loos and water fountains have been deployed along the route and businesses nearby are expected to keep special hours to serve food.

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