It’s being hailed as the most British moment that ever happened – hundreds of thousands joining an orderly queue to see the coffin of a dead monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II died last week, after 70 years on the throne of a dozen-plus countries. Her body’s currently lying in state at Westminster Hall ahead of her funeral next week.
Within a day of her arrival, the queue to see the coffin stretched more than 4km through central London – south from Westminster, across the Lambeth Bridge, up through Waterloo and South Bank, then east towards London Bridge.
Officials expect around 750,000 to join the queue over the coming days, Reuters reported, with it expected to near a whopping 8km and stretch through to Southwark. Some expect it to end up twice as long as that.
“She’s given 70 years of her life to us. I’m sure I can give 24 hours of mine, just give that respect to her,” mourner Mark Bonser told Reuters.
But 24 hours might be optimistic. The Guardian reports there have been warnings it could take 30 hours. Hundreds of portaloos have been installed. Snipers are also reportedly watching – presumably not to take out queue-jumpers?
Chairs and sleeping gear are banned too.
“I don’t particularly care either way about the Queen. But the queue? The Queue is a triumph of Britishness. It’s incredible,” one viral tweet said.
“There is no sleeping in The Queue, for The Queue moves constantly and steadily, day and night. You will be shuffling along at 0.1 miles per hour for days,” said British Twitter user @curiousiguana.
“And the end of the queue is a box. You will walk past the box, slowly, but for no more than a minute. Then you will exit into the London drizzle and make your way home…
“Tell me this isn’t the greatest bit of British performance art that has ever happened? I’m giddy with joy. It’s fantastic. We are a deeply, deeply mad people with an absolutely unshakeable need to join a queue. It’s utterly glorious.”
As of 8.40pm Wednesday (UK time), about 8000 people were watching a livestream of a graphic showing the current length of the queue. Not even the queue itself. Tens of thousands more were tuned into live streams of the actual queue hosted by British news outlets.
The Queen’s funeral will be held on Monday (UK time).