How to survive the queue to see the Queen lying in state: Dress warmly, take enough snacks, make some ‘toilet break pals’ and don’t forget your umbrella – top tips to get through an up to 30-hour wait to pay your respects to Her Majesty
- Up to a million mourners are expected to queue for several miles to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster
- Royal fans have camped out in sleeping bags overnight and sheltered under their brollies amid downpours
- At 2.22pm, King Charles III will lead a procession that will take his late mother’s coffin to Westminster Hall
- Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing
If there’s one thing us Brits are good at, it’s forming an orderly queue. From Wimbledon to Glastonbury, we are no strangers to standing in line for hours on end – come rain or shine – for the biggest events of the calendar year.
It’s no surprise then, that up to a million people are expected to queue for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to pay their respects to the Queen in person, as her coffin lies in state in Westminster Hall following her death at the age of 96 last week.
Hundreds of people have already begun waiting on the banks of the Thames, with the queue stretching between Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge from as early as 8am – despite the doors of the hall not opening until 5pm today.
The Government was so worried about the numbers that it sent out lengthy guidance about what can be carried into the hall, bathroom facilities for those waiting in line, and the risk of having to wait through the night – while warning of delays of up to 30 hours.
Amid fears the queue might reach four miles up the Thames to Southwark Park in Bermondsey before the doors even open, below are some tips on how to survive the hours-long wait.
Royal fan cooks baked beans in a portable cooker while waiting in line along the banks of the Thames in a bid to see the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall
A mourner brushes his teeth on Wednesday morning after emerging from his tent in the queue to see the Queen’s coffin in central London
Women don their waterproof ponchos while sitting in plastic chairs as they wait to see the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall
Members of the public wait in the queue near Lambeth Bridge in central London, to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday
Royal fans wait under umbrellas as they queue in Lambeth to see the Queen’s coffin at Westminster Hall
People queue to view Queen Elizabeth II laying in state near Lambeth Bridge. Last week Britain’s longest reigning monarch passed away at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96
1. Brace for the weather
The weather at this time of year is typically unpredictable, with showers and rain often followed by bouts of sunshine and mild temperatures.
Pack a poncho, umbrella or anorak so you don’t get soaked, as well as a waterproof cover for your rucksack.
Bring a waterproof travel rug, too, so you can sit on the ground in any weather, and a foldable chair to avoid having to stand for hours on end.
2. Bring snacks
You’ll need to be fully stocked with water and food – and pack a large flask to keep the cups of tea flowing.
If it’s not your first rodeo – or you’re camping overnight – bring a portable cooker and get the baked beans going, as one royal fan was pictured doing so this morning – although be aware that barbecues are not permitted.
3. Make friends
One of the easiest ways to pass the time is to get talking to the people around you.
You’re all queueing to see the Queen so already have something in common, and the reported ‘good natured’ atmosphere will make it easy to get along – plus they can hold your place in line if you need a toilet break.
Royal fans who began waiting in line on Tuesday night chose to sing hymns.
Sir Keir Starmer says he will visit the Queen’s coffin with his family
Sir Keir Starmer has urged protesters to ‘respect’ those mourning the Queen, and not ‘ruin’ their opportunity to say a private ‘thank you’ to the late monarch.
The Labour leader said he will return to Westminster Hall with his family to personally pay his respects at the lying in state after he joins the committee receiving the coffin in a professional capacity.
He said the country’s response to the Queen’s death has been ‘very moving’, and encouraged those who might want to protest to be considerate of people’s grief.
On Tuesday, activists gathered outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh carrying ‘blank canvases’ to protest in solidarity against several arrests that have been made in relation to incidents during royal ceremonies.
Police Scotland have charged two people in connection with allegedly breaching the peace following two separate incidents earlier in the week.
A protester bearing a handmade sign saying ‘not my King’ was also spoken to by police and escorted away from the Palace of Westminster in London.
Asked about the police response to those wishing to protest, Sir Keir told BBC Breakfast: ‘The word I’d use around that issue is ‘respect’.
‘I think if people have spent a long time waiting to come forward to have that moment as the coffin goes past, or whatever it may be, I think: respect that, because people have made a huge effort to come and have that private moment to say thank you to Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Obviously we have to respect the fact that some people disagree. One of the great British traditions is the ability to protest and to disagree, but I think if it can be done in the spirit of respect…
‘Respect the fact that hundreds of thousands of people do want to come forward and have that moment, don’t ruin it for them.’
The King and his sons will walk behind the Queen’s coffin as she leaves Buckingham Palace for the final time on Wednesday, ahead of her lying in state.
The royal family will accompany their matriarch on foot on the journey to Westminster Hall where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pay their respects after queuing for hours.
Sir Keir said he and his family will be among those attending.
‘Today I’ll be there as part of the reception committee to receive the coffin,’ he said.
‘Then later on this evening in a private capacity, because my wife and our children… they want to come in, and as a family we will then pay our own personal respects to a remarkable sovereign.’
4. Prepare your smartphone/tablet
Much like on a long flight, our smartphones and tablets can provide hours of distraction – so make sure yours are fully charged.
Bring a portable charger if you own one to avoid your device running out of juice.
And load your Netflix or other streaming services up with series, films or podcasts, that you can watch or listen to while you wait.
5. Keep yourself entertained
Bring that book you’ve been trying to finish or some magazines that you can flick through.
A pack of cards and typical ‘game night’ games with fellow queuers – such as charades – can also pass the time.
6. Bring your toothbrush!
With waits of 12 hours or more, and with scores of royal fans prepared to queue overnight, don’t forget to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste – for yours and your fellow queuers’ sakes.
Add face wipes, deodorant and any other daily cosmetics you can’t go without to that list.
7. Pack as light as possible
Try to have just one small bag on your person. The Government has warned that those with large rucksacks or baggage will have to leave them at the bag drop facility, which has a ‘limited capacity’.
It could mean you will face further delays while waiting for a space to leave your bags.
Each person is allowed inside the hall with a small bag measuring no larger than 40x30x20cm.
8. Leave your stuffed toys at home
Do not bring cuddly toys, such as Paddington Bears, in the hopes of leaving them by the Queen’s coffin.
They are among the several items that will be confiscated upon entering Westminster Hall, including cigarettes, whistles and flags.
9. Plan ahead
Check to see what road closures are in place at the time or on the day you are planning to visit the Queen’s coffin.
There may also be delays to public transport with Transport for London (TfL) warning of busier than usual services.
Search on social media or the government website to see where the queue has stretched to and how long you can expect to wait.
10. Consider leaving children at home – and get your wristband
People have been warned off taking children to pay their respects, as the queue could become too arduous for them.
Mourners will also be given colour-coded wristbands in order to temporarily leave the queue to buy food and use the toilet.
If it gets too much, look out for stewards staffing the route who have reportedly been advised to spot people who may be struggling and to take them out of the queue for a ‘cup of tea’.
Where is the Queen’s coffin?
The Queen is spending one final night at Buckingham Palace, her home of 70 years. Her coffin was driven from RAF Northolt along the A40 after being flown from Edinburgh yesterday afternoon.
She was received by the whole Royal Family, including King Charles III, the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II arrives in the Royal Hearse at Buckingham Palace
When will the Queen’s coffin be moved to the Palace of Westminster?
At 2.22pm, a ceremonial procession will take place on Wednesday afternoon that will see The Queen’s coffin travel from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster for the Lying-in-State.
The King will lead the procession, and his feuding sons Princes William and Harry will join him, putting on a display of unity.
Members of the public can watch the procession in person at the ceremonial viewing areas along the processional route, or at a screening site in Hyde Park.
The coffin will then arrive at the Palace of Westminster at 3pm.
Members of the public can watch the procession in person at the ceremonial viewing areas along the processional route, or at a screening site in Hyde Park
When can I see the Queen lying-in-state?
Members of the public will be able to pay their respects to The Queen at the Lying-in-State at The Palace of Westminster in London from 5pm today until 6.30am on Monday, September 19.
At the Lying-in-State, The Queen’s closed coffin will rest on a raised platform, called a catafalque, in Westminster Hall and will be draped in the Royal Standard with the Orb and Sceptre placed on top. Each corner of the platform will be guarded around the clock by a vigil of units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division, or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.
Those wishing to attend will be required to queue for many hours, possibly overnight. Large crowds are expected and people are encouraged to check ahead, plan accordingly and be prepared for long wait times.
What security will there be?
All those attending the Lying-in-State will go through airport-style security and there are tight restrictions on what you can take in, with only small bags permitted. Step-free access will be available for those who need it.
This graphic issued by the UK Government this week shows what items will be banned at Westminster Hall in London
Only bags smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm will be allowed into Westminster Hall during the lying-in-state from today
What if I can’t get to London?
For those unable to travel, key moments of the ceremonial procession and the Lying-in-State will be broadcast on the BBC, Sky News and ITV.
It comes as among those already waiting on Wednesday morning, there is a sense that the least they can do is be there for a woman who they feel was always there for them.
The overwhelming sentiment was a need to pay their respects, with many saying they had never really considered themselves royalists.
Small friendship groups had started to form among those waiting, with people offering around their snacks and keeping an eye on their neighbours’ bags so they could take comfort breaks.
A group of four women, who had all travelled alone, had struck up a conversation as they prepared to weather a rain shower.
Kate Paysen, 58, had flown from Lisbon just to be in London for the lying in state.
Ms Paysen, who grew up in the UK but emigrated in 1998, said: ‘I always felt that when the Queen died I would come and pay my respects.
‘My father was in the Army and I grew up in a royalist household, and I think it’s important to come and be part of history. I think the Queen for me always made me feel proud to be British.’
Sarah Santangelo, 50, is based in the US but had been back in the UK for a few months.
‘I always said that if anything ever happened to the Queen I would fly back, it just happened I was already here when she passed away.’
Ms Santangelo added: ‘She’s sacrificed her whole life for this country, the least I could do is pay my respects.’
Gina Carver, 60, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said: ‘To give up my day queuing is nothing compared to what she’s done for 70 years – and she does feel like our grandmother.
‘She was the face of reason, you always think things are going to be alright if she says it’s alright.’
Helen Redding, 60, from Sidcup, south-east London, said: ‘When the Queen died I was shocked how much it meant to me.’
She added: ‘I felt like I had to be here, to be part of history and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to pay my respects.
‘I’m really glad I did because it’s a lovely atmosphere here.’
Lee Harkness, 51, a clinical psychologist from Lancashire, travelled down on Tuesday night with his daughter Chloe, 11, and his sister Louisa Harkness-Hudson, 55.
Mr Harkness said: ‘I’m not really a royalist, but having seen the (lying in state) in Edinburgh, it looked like a really nice way to pay my respects to someone who has dedicated themselves to this country.’
Mrs Harkness-Hudson said: ‘I thought ‘we’ll regret it if we don’t go’ – you only get one chance to do this, so we didn’t want to miss it.’
Chloe, on her first visit to London, said she had come along because she ‘wanted to witness a part of history’.
Among the other early birds were Rob Barber, 47, an immigration officer from Berkshire, who said: ‘I’m full of admiration for the Queen – she was part of our lives and she’s done a fantastic job for this country.
‘She did what she set out to do and the least I could do was pay my respects to someone who devoted her life to service and duty.’
Matthew Greenwood, 41, from Yorkshire, said: ‘There’s this huge sense of history – I know it’s a cliche but the fact the Queen’s been on the throne for 70 years, the least I could do was spare a few hours to come and pay my respects.’
Kush Sonigra, who lives in the London area, is spending his 24th birthday in the queue for the Queen’s lying in state and hopes to make it back home in time for dinner with his family this evening.
After those waiting behind him in the queue sang Happy Birthday, he told the PA news agency: ‘Well, fortunately, from work I get the day off for my birthday, so I thought I’d get involved and see what the hype is about, get involved with the event.’
He added: ‘There’s a family dinner table so I’m hoping, depending on how late I finish here, I might be able to make it for that.
‘Otherwise, we will postpone that to the weekend.’
He said his mother ‘is a little bit upset that I’m missing the family dinner, but I think she’ll understand’.
Former member of the Balmoral Guard Duncan Rasor, who met the Queen while serving in Scotland, wore his military medals and Glengarry headdress as he queued for the lying in state.
The 48-year-old served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and told the PA news agency: ‘I spent four months up in Balmoral valley and so I did get to meet the Queen and spend some time with her.
‘So, from a personal perspective, I wanted to come and pay my respects for everything that she’s done.’
He described spending time with the royal family as an ‘extraordinary privilege’ and added: ‘Even though they are on holiday up in Balmoral, they are still working, and it just never stops.
‘I think that is something which is starting to become more apparent to people is quite how hard Her Majesty has worked for her entire life.’
He served in the regiment between 1997 and 2002 and wore a Northern Ireland medal and a Kosovo medal.
Asked why he decided to wear his medals and Glengarry headdress, he said: ‘She was our Colonel-in-Chief so, having been part of the regiment, I could have come down without it, but I retired 20 years ago so I’m not a serving soldier, but it is a rare opportunity to put on a headdress and wear medals again and just be proud, I guess.’
Chris Bond, from Truro, had attended the lying in state of the Queen Mother in 2002, and expected to have less of a wait to see Queen Elizabeth, after joining the queue at 7am on the other side of the Thames to the Palace of Westminster.
Mr Bond, wearing a black tie and jacket, said that in 2002, ‘I saw the procession pass by at Horse Guards Parade, and then by the time I made my way down, I actually started to queue right down by the Millennium Wheel and then took me six hours to progress from there.’
‘It was six o’clock when I walked into Westminster.’
He added: ‘Obviously, it’s quite difficult queuing all day long, but when you walk through those doors into Westminster Hall, that marvellous, historic building, there was a great sense of hush and one was told you take as much time as you like, and it’s just amazing.’
In preparation for the wait this time, Mr Bond had brought crisps, nuts and energy bars and bottles of water, and he said he was ‘well-equipped’ for the duration.
Yesterday people lined the road waiting for the passing of the cortege carrying the coffin of late Queen Elizabeth II, heading towards Buckingham Palace in London
Sat underneath a gazebo, well-wishers keeping dry from the rain wrap themselves in layers of clothing and blankets
A woman wraps herself in a blanket as she sits in the queue for the Queen’s lying in state which begins at 5pm today
Two mourners sit underneath a plastic tarpaulin as they shelter from the damp weather in the queue for the lying in state
People in coats and rain ponchos form part of today’s queue for the Queen’s lying in state which begins at 5pm
Two people sit under a plastic sheet and an umbrella as they queue for the Queen’s lying in state which begins at 5pm today
People are continuing to gather in the queue for the Queen’s lying in state, which will begin after her coffin is transferred to Westminster Hall
Princes William and Harry to support Charles by walking together with him behind the late Queen’s coffin – in echoes of the heartbreaking scenes at Diana’s funeral
Prince William and Prince Harry will set aside their feud and support their father King Charles III by marching with him behind the Queen’s coffin as it leaves Buckingham Palace for the final time today.
Charles, William and Harry – along with the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex – will follow the coffin on foot as it makes its 38-minute journey in front of thousands of mourners lining the streets in central London.
For William and Harry it will bring back painful memories of when they, aged 15 and 12, walked behind the coffin of their mother Princess Diana in 1997.
Anne’s son Peter Phillips and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will also walk in the procession, as well as the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Snowdon.
The Queen Consort, the Princess of Wales, the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Sussex will travel by car.
The procession will leave Buckingham Palace at 2.22pm borne by gun carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The route will take the coffin through the Queen’s Gardens, The Mall, Horse Guards Parade and Horse Guards Arch, Whitehall, Parliament Street, Parliament Square and New Palace Yard.
He said: ‘We know the Queen was a good age and she served the country a long time, but we hoped this day would never come.
‘But it has come, and I think undoubtedly she has been our most outstanding monarch.’
Joyce Dawson, 54, from Middlesbrough, has never visited London before, but said she was ‘inspired’ to travel down for the Queen’s lying in state after seeing the first people in the queue being interviewed on the TV news on Tuesday evening.
She said: ‘I texted my daughter and said ‘We have to go to London tonight’, so we’re here. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.’
She and her daughter Shelby, 26, who has also never been to the capital before, got on the midnight coach from Middlesbrough and joined the queue at about 8am.
Joyce added: ‘It’s just nice to be a part of this. It’s exciting, I’m dead excited, I’m like a little kid.’
Jacqueline Nemorin, Suzanne Howell, and Patricia King did not know each other before they joined the queue to attend the lying in state at the same time, at 6pm on Tuesday. They are 44th, 45th and 46th in line.
Ms Nemorin said the wait overnight was ‘really terrible’ due to the weather conditions, which she described as ‘raining cats and dogs’.
She added that she managed ‘a little cat nap’ at some point in the night, but her two new friends ‘didn’t sleep at all’.
They have been told that they will be allowed to cross Lambeth Bridge to do security checks at around 3.30pm, before being let into Westminster Hall to see the Queen’s coffin.
Suzanne Howell said a man who lives in a block of flats on the other side of the river had brought over camping chairs, a blanket and food for the trio.
Ms Howell said: ‘We were told that there would be like a million or millions of people expected and that it could be a 30-hour wait.
‘So that’s why I was saying I was so surprised when we arrived last night and we’re in the 40s (in the queue). I thought this can’t be the queue, I must be in the wrong place.’
She added: ‘We haven’t slept at all, but I don’t feel tired. We’re glad we did it, we’ve got no regrets.’
Amanda Drake, 63, who divides her time between Britain and her native Australia, set up her tent at 10pm last night. She came over to the UK in February for the Platinum Jubilee and is now among those waiting by Lambeth Bridge.
Clutching her blue sleeping bag and eating toast by her one man tent, she said: ‘This is a once in a lifetime event. The Queen meant so much to me, my mother and grandmother, who have now sadly both died, were staunch Royalists.
‘I camped out when the Queen Mother was lying in state 20 years ago so I knew this is what I had to do. I feel as though I’m representing my mum and grandmother, the three generations of my family. I divide my time between Sydney and London but I’ve been here in Britain since the Jubilee in February. I didn’t want to go back to Australia because the Queen looked quite frail and I has a feeling that she didn’t have long left.
‘Camping the night has been quite comfortable, I’ve managed to get some sleep and I’ve been talking to others who also camped out about the Queen’s life and her dedication to service.’
Those wishing to attend the Queen’s lying in state are advised to visit the Government’s website for advice on where to go, the length of the wait and what they can carry before they travel.
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