It is a moment for which Britain has been making serious preparations for years. Several official agencies were brought together. Meticulous plans were drawn up in secret. The complex logistical technicalities were ironed out. A route was carefully mapped out.
And the population of any country could not have been better prepared for this.
We are of course talking about the queue that Britons must join to pay their respects Queen Elizabeth II, This is not a simple line. It has taken on a symbolic meaning, a ritual to be performed, which is an embodiment of the national mood. It is in short, Queue.
It snakes out of Westminster Hall, where the body of the late emperor lay in the kingdom for miles on the southern bank of the River Thames. It spans past landmarks such as the London Eye (built at the turn of the millennium), the Royal Festival Hall (opened in 1951, a year before Princess Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne), and the Globe Theater (a nod to the previous Elizabethan era). It is planned to lengthen it by nine miles or 14.5 kilometres.
It may not be as fast as the other way around Getting from one end of London to the other, But it shares a surname – Elizabeth Line.
In quintessentially British fashion, an orderly line began to form outside the Palace of Westminster as soon as it was announced that the late monarch would lie in state at Westminster Hall on Monday – two days before the hall’s doors opened to the public.
By Wednesday afternoon, the queue became official, and all planned features popped up. Portable toilets, water fountains and first aid stations were built along the route and a bag drop was installed at the front.
The queue passes Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, of which the British monarch is the supreme governor. The current incumbent, Justin Welby, came out on Wednesday to offer a personal blessing to the cue and all those waiting in it, expressing the hope that they would remain warm and enjoy each other’s company.
Each mourner is given a special wristband indicating their position in the queue, which is inspected at various checkpoints along the route. In the unlikely event of someone attempting to jump in line, hundreds of police officers and marshals in high-vis jackets are on hand to keep order.
To make queuing as efficient as possible, the UK government has established a live tracker which displays its current length and where the current end point – alerts potential queues to be ready for very, very long waits.
“You will need to stand for several hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit, as the queue will go on,” says a government official. guide to queue Surely there is such a document.
Artist Cecilia Tyrell, 26, came ready for the long wait. “I got a lot of food and I was going to get an umbrella, but I forgot … I had been preparing for 12 hours, that’s what they were saying on the news,” she told CNN.
By the time Tyrell reached the Lambeth Bridge checkpoint, she had been waiting for three hours. “I thought it would be too long,” she said, adding that she thought the opportunity was worth the time. “I have time to do it and it’s such a rare opportunity, I just wanted to say thank you,” she said.
By Thursday afternoon, the line had extended to more than four miles (seven kilometres), winding all the way from the Palace of Westminster to Tower Bridge and beyond.
There was even a designated last-in-queue person: a marshal armed with a large, black flag that read “Let-in-State, Q Start Here.” (Unlike other front rowers, this person is destined to move on forever, never to reach that mythical destination, at the front of the queue.)
Southwark Park, which is located approximately six miles southeast of Westminster, has been designated the official end of the queue.
But just to be on the safe side, officials have set up barriers within the park to create an additional three-mile zigzag line.
When people came to pay their respects to the queen, many accepted that the queue had become her own experience.
“I’m not particularly monarchist or monarchist, but I wanted to get involved for the historical aspect, just to see what it’s all about, to see it all coming together,” Alice Hixon, a student, told the told CNN standing near the end of the cue. Tower Bridge.
Henry Heyler, a 33-year-old financial valuation officer at Hastings, said he enjoyed meeting the others at The Q. Heller told CNN that he joined the line after arriving in London at 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
“We met the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was there too, I had a box of grapes and I offered him one and I said ‘oh they taste like candy floss’ and he took one and [said] ‘You’re a good salesman’ and I was like ‘Thank you very much,’ such a short joke with the Archbishop of Canterbury that was so much fun.”
Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster where the Queen is lying in state, will be open 24 hours until Monday morning and officials expect people to queue until the end.
By the time the wait is over, the queue could become one of the longest seen queues in the UK. Although it will not be official. Guinness World Records told CNN on Thursday that it does not oversee the record title for longest line.