Queue to pay respects to Queen hits capacity

Mourners hoping to view Queen Elizabeth II lying-in-state in London were briefly turned away on Friday when the queue of those waiting to attend reached capacity.

Members of the public have been permitted to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall since Wednesday afternoon. Thousands have travelled to the British capital from across the country and around the world, with many standing through the night to bid a final farewell to the late monarch.

The queue’s designated route curves alongside the Thames, starting in Southwark Park in the east and passing well-known landmarks such as Tower Bridge and London Bridge before eventually reaching Westminster Hall. It is flanked by hundreds of stewards, including members of the Metropolitan Police and volunteers from St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army.

Early on Friday, the queue was more than 4 miles long and at 9.50am the government announced that entry would be paused for six hours. The shorter accessible queue for those with mobility issues also reached capacity shortly after midday. “Please do not attempt to join the queue until it reopens,” the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted.

An online route tracker, which has been live-streaming on YouTube since Wednesday, also urged the public not to join the queue until further formal updates were issued.

By early afternoon, signs at the entrance to Southwark Park still informed visitors that entry to “Her Majesty’s lying-in-state queue” was temporarily closed, but mourners continued to stream through the park gates.

Designated queueing route for Queen Elizabeth’s lying-in-state

Julie Palmer, 61, was among them, having travelled from Hull with her sister and daughter to see the Queen. The trio decided to take their chances of joining the queue despite the official guidance advising visitors to hold off.

Minutes later they were on the move. “The queue has reopened but please take care . . . I’ve had three people face-plant in front of me today and I don’t want any more accidents,” said one women marshalling the back of the miles-long line.

Palmer and her family were braced for nine hours in the queue, but had no complaints. “We are royalists, we were brought up to be,” she said, adding that the Queen’s death “felt like you’ve lost a family member”.

A dot matrix sign in front of a crowd
A sign informs people in Southwark Park of a pause in joining the queue © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Downing Street said on Friday that the temporary pause in allowing people to join the queue was part of contingency plans for the operation.

“What DCMS have done is they’ve temporarily paused the queue for at least six hours after it reached maximum capacity,” said a Downing Street spokesperson. “That has always been part of our planning and that is to make sure as many people as possible in the queue can enter the Palace of Westminster.”

Members of the public will be permitted to see the Queen lying-in-state until 6.30am on September 19, the day of the late monarch’s funeral.

In an updated statement on Friday evening, the DCMS said queueing had reopened, but warned of long waits. “Expected queueing time is over 24 hours and overnight temperatures will be cold,” it said.

Source link

Back to top button