Queen’s lying-in-state: Queue length and wait times today as people pay respects to late monarch


The ‘Elizabeth Line’ of mourners desperate to view the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall was shut for at least six hours today after reaching nearly five miles long – an astonishing 14-hour wait.

The Government said in an update just before 10am: ‘Southwark Park has reached capacity. Entry will be paused for at least 6 hours. We are sorry for any inconvenience. Please do not attempt to join the queue until it re-opens.’

On the third day of the Queen’s lying in state, those stood in the queue which hugged the south bank of the River Thames were told the wait time had swelled to ‘at least 14 hours’ and 4.9 miles to Southwark Park in Bermondsey.

The Government had warned just an hour earlier: ‘If the park reaches capacity, entry to the queue will be paused. If you have not yet set off to join, please consider waiting until numbers have reduced.’ 

And the line for people to go through Westminster Hall has now been doubled to two lines each side of Her Majesty’s casket amid concerns over delays. 

Since the early hours of yesterday morning, officials have directed mourners to form two columns either side of the late Queen’s coffin, adorned with the Imperial Crown, so twice as many people can pay their respects at once.

The huge volume of people wanting to say farewell to Her Majesty led to the decision to double the rate of flow, ensuring as many who wished to pay their respects were able.

The queue – which people have been joining since Monday and which opened on Wednesday at 5pm – is now taking mourners more than half a day to complete but many have been saying the long wait was worth it.

Mourners said there was ‘breathtaking’ serenity awaiting them in Westminster Hall where ‘you could hear a pin drop’ in the silence.

But security jobsworths had a field day as they took hand sanitiser and boiled sweets from elderly mourners queuing.

Stewards in hi-vis were accused of being overzealous as they cracked down on what could and could not be brought into Westminster Hall.

Mourners also described brazen pushing-in towards the back of the line as young people took advantage of spaces left by slow elderly people in the queue.

Officials have enforced airport-style security as the public enter the Palace of Westminster.

One mourner was forced to hand over a single Werther’s Original, lipstick and hand sanitiser, while others told of various items being confiscated.

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen’s lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning 

People queue inside Westminster Hall to see the Queen's lying in state in the early hours of this morning

People queue inside Westminster Hall to see the Queen’s lying in state in the early hours of this morning

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

A man stands as people queue to pay their respects to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II this morning

A man stands as people queue to pay their respects to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen's lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen’s lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II 

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Matthew, 39, said: ‘I was told to throw away my little bottle of glasses cleaner, you’d just never have even thought of it.’ He was also made to empty the liquid out of his electronic cigarette.

His mother Glennis, 72, had her mini-toothpaste, deodorant and face cream taken away. ‘I won’t look so fresh-faced tomorrow,’ she said.

Queen’s lying in state: What you need to know 

The Queen is lying in state in London ahead of her funeral. Here is some of the information mourners need to know.

– What exactly is meant by the term ‘lying in state’?

Lying in state is usually reserved for sovereigns, current or past queen consorts, and sometimes former prime ministers.

During the formal occasion, the closed coffin is placed on view, as thousands of people queue to file past and pay their respects.

The coffin will be adorned with the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre.

– When and where will the Queen lie in state?

The late monarch’s lying in state in Westminster Hall opened to the public at 5pm yesterday and it will be open 24 hours a day until it closes at 6.30am on Monday, September 19 – the day of the Queen’s funeral.

– Where is Westminster Hall?

Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, is in the Palace of Westminster and is the oldest building on the parliamentary estate.

It forms part of the Westminster Unesco World Heritage Site and the UK Parliament website refers to its ‘great size’, the ‘magnificence’ of its roof, and its central role in British history.

The building has been the site of key events, such as the trial of Charles I, coronation banquets, and addresses by world leaders.

– Is there a big queue?

Yes. Government guidance says there will be a queue which is expected to be very long, predicted to be in the tens of thousands. 

As it stands the queue is about 11 hours long.

People will need to stand for ‘many hours, possibly overnight’, with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be continuously moving.

People are not allowed to camp and a wristband system is being used to manage the queue, with those waiting in line given a coloured and numbered one, specific to each person, allowing them to leave for a short period.

‘Your wristband also allows you to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, then return to your place in the queue,’ according to the official guidance.

– What is the queue route?

Members of the public can join the line on the Albert Embankment, which runs behind the London Eye onto the Southbank before following the river past landmarks such as the National Theatre, the Tate Modern and HMS Belfast, reaching ‘maximum capacity’ at Southwark Park.

– Is there assistance for people who cannot queue for long periods of time?

The main queue has step-free access with a separate accessible route also planned to run from Tate Britain where timed entry slots will be issued for a queue going along Millbank to the Palace of Westminster.

Guide dogs will be allowed inside Westminster Hall, with sign language interpreters also on hand.

Venues including the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe will open for longer hours to accommodate those queuing. The British Film Institute on the Southbank will do the same while providing an outdoor screen with archive footage of the Queen.

Jane, 53, had a confrontation with the stewards after they demanded she hand over her perfume bottle.

‘They told me to throw away my Chanel No 5 but I begged and begged. I nearly cried,’ she said. ‘They wanted my make-up too but I hid it.’

While some could not be without their perfume or snacks, it was revealed that others couldn’t part from their pets.

A Parliamentary source told the Daily Mail that officials have stopped six mourners from entering Westminster Hall after they were caught trying to smuggle in their pet dogs hidden under coats.

As of 11.30pm last night, the queue was 4.9 miles long, drifting back as far as Southwark Park in Bermondsey, with an estimated wait time of nine hours.

A little over two hours later, the wait time had jumped to 14 hours, although the mileage of the queue remained the same.

By 5.30am this morning, it was once again at nine hours with the actual length shrinking to 3.6 miles.

But by 7am it had gone up to 11 hours and 4.4 miles. 

And by 9am it was at 14 hours and 4.9 miles. 

The closest landmark for the end of the queue changed from Tower Bridge to Bermondsey Beach, and then to Southwark Park. 

For most of the night, the line was nearly five miles in length with Southwark listed as the nearest landmark, according to the Queue Tracker.

Nurse Melanie Pickman, 50, left her home in Swansea at 11am to join the back of the queue just before 3pm.

The mother-of-three said: ‘My sons think I’m mad because I have come to London to stand in a queue which some people say could be 30 hours long.

‘Last night I thought about it and I made the decision to come first thing this morning. I just thought that I needed to come.

‘We will never see this again. She served our country for such a long time. We owe it to her to show our respect.

‘Look at all these people who have shown up to queue – she has made them happy.

‘She may be the Queen but she is also somebody’s mum, aunty and granny. I just think she is part of us as well. We have been lucky to have her.’

There was a tinge of sadness, overwhelming amounts of respect and lots of good-natured chatter as strangers quickly built friendships with those walking beside them for much of the day.

It was surprisingly also not overly noisy despite thousands of people, ranging from the elderly to babies in arms, joining the growing crowd.

Bonuses included mild temperatures in the early 20Cs, the rain holding off and a route which passed landmarks including the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern.

Firefighters were seen handing out bottles of water, volunteers from the Samaritans were available and there was a noticeable presence of stewards, police and portable toilets along the route.

Mary Buttimer, 59 from Greenwich, and Martin Clark, 65, from Kent, have become firm friends in the queue.

Standing near London Bridge station, the pair had been in the queue for an hour and a half.

Ms Buttimer said she had joined the queue to pay her respects to the Queen.

‘I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a royalist, but I just thought it was a respectful thing I could do, to acknowledge her years of service,’ she said.

Martin said they had started near Bermondsey station. ‘We are in, we have got to see it through now,’ he said.

The UK chief commissioner of the Scouts said the mood among the crowds waiting to pay their respects was ‘friendly and poignant’.

Carl Hankinson, who is among volunteers to monitor the queue throughout Victoria Gardens, said Scouts had been ‘on their feet 12 hours’ a day to help ensure the smooth running of admissions.

The Scout, who once met the Queen at a garden party, said: ‘She was fantastic in every way – she was interested in Scouts, she was conversational, very encouraging and very supportive of young people.’

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen's lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen’s lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen's lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen’s lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

Marc Carney, 58, filed past the Queen’s coffin at 6.40pm after travelling from his home in Hythe, Kent, on Thursday morning.

The moment he got to say his personal goodbye left him ‘struck by the realism’ of everything that is happening.

He said: ‘It hits you how moving it all us and how much love and support there’s for the Queen.’

Mr Carney joined the queue at about 11.30am and said ‘it had been difficult to find the end of it because the line kept on growing as I was walking towards it’.

He added: ‘It was so rewarding and peaceful in lots of ways. You also got to see London under a different cloud.

‘It was worth it making that long journey. It makes you focus on what you are here for.’

Earlier, three well-wishers who befriended each other in the queue said there had been a friendly ‘camaraderie’ among the crowd.

Amy Harris, 34, and Matthew Edwards, 35, met James Cross, 65, after getting the train to London from Birmingham to join the queue at about 1am.

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen's lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

The queue for members of the public to see the Queen’s lying-in-state goes past Tower Bridge in London this morning

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue to pay their respects at Westminster Hall in London this morning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II this morning

People queue in the early hours of this morning to visit Westminster Palace where the Queen's coffin is lying in state

People queue in the early hours of this morning to visit Westminster Palace where the Queen’s coffin is lying in state

People queue overnight to visit Westminster Hall where the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is lying in state

People queue overnight to visit Westminster Hall where the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is lying in state

People queue in the early hours of this morning to visit Westminster Palace where the Queen's coffin is lying in state

People queue in the early hours of this morning to visit Westminster Palace where the Queen’s coffin is lying in state

SINGLE LINES: The first members of the public pay their respects as the vigil begins around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as it Lies in State inside Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday evening

DOUBLE LINES: Members of the public yesterday were split into four queues, two either side of the Queen’s coffin (split shown with red arrows), to speed up the flow of mourners after concerns over too few being able to pay their respects to the late monarch before her funeral on Monday

Mr Cross said: ‘Everyone in the queue was very friendly, chatting and having a laugh. It was really quite lovely.’

Mr Edwards said: ‘Everyone was offering biscuits, drinks,’ adding that the three were now planning to have a pint together after the long wait.

The atmosphere in Westminster Hall was ‘breathtaking,’ Ms Harris said. 

‘When you’re able to go in and have a moment to look at it and reflect, the serenity of it – to be able to pay your respects in such a serene place, it’s very peaceful.’

Fiona Holloran, 34, wept as she left Westminster Hall after paying her respects to the Queen.

The Londoner said: ‘It was very moving to see the vigil around her – I was a little bit surprised at how much it struck me.’

The PhD student, who queued since 6.30am with her baby strapped to her in a carrier, said the wait had been ‘worth it’.

‘It’s lovely that everyone has just a moment to themselves – no one was pushing.’

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