Mourners coming to London from across the country to pay their last respects to the Queen as she lies in state have been warned to expect overnight queues and hours-long waiting times.
According to The Sun, queues to see the Queen lying in state “could last 12 hours” and “stretch for three miles” as Whitehall staff in charge of logistics warn that the number of people wanting to see the Queen’s coffin could “far exceed the 200,000 who paid their respects to the Queen Mother in 2002”.
Civil servants say the number could be closer to the million mourners “who filed past Pope John Paul II” when he lay in state at the Vatican in 2005, the paper added.
Before the Queen’s coffin arrives in London to lie in state, it will be at rest in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh for 24 hours over today and tomorrow, with people able to visit and pay their respects there.
When and where will the Queen lie in state?
The Queen’s coffin will lie in state in Westminster Hall, part of the Houses of Parliament, from Wednesday until the day of her funeral, Monday 19 September.
The Queen’s lying in state will be open to the public 24 hours a day from 5pm on Wednesday until 6.30am on Monday.
What can people expect to see?
The Guardian reported that visitors can expect to see the Queen’s closed coffin, which “will be draped in a royal flag, usually a personal standard, and will rest on a raised platform called a catafalque”. Traditionally “a crown and other regalia” will be placed on top of the coffin.
It will be “flanked by a military guard around the clock”, with each corner of the platform “watched 24 hours a day by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment”, the paper said.
Some members of the public might even see members of the Royal Family, as the Queen’s children and grandchildren could “honour her with a vigil and join the guard over the coffin at some point”, in a tradition known as the Vigil of the Princes.
The Queen’s daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal, may also stand guard over the Queen, becoming “the first female member of the royal family to do so”, added the paper.
What guidance has been issued to those wanting to visit Westminster Hall?
The government has published extensive guidance for those wishing to view the Queen lying in state, warning that queues are expected to be “very long” and visitors “will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be continuously moving”. Visitors have been asked to consider the long queues “before you decide to attend or bring children with you”.
Government guidance has said that visitors will go through airport-style security, with tight restrictions on what people can take in. People will only be permitted to take in one small bag, which must “be smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm, with one simple opening or zip so you can move quickly through the security check”. There is also an extensive list of prohibited items, which can be checked on the government website.
Large bags, food and liquid of any kind (except clear water bottles), and flowers, candles or tributes of any kind will not be permitted inside the Palace of Westminster, according to official guidance, which advises that floral tributes be taken to the dedicated area in Green Park.
Visitors have been asked to “respect the dignity of this event”, and remain silent in the Palace of Westminster and in Westminster Hall.
Antisocial behaviour, including queue-jumping, excessive consumption of alcohol, or drunken behaviour, will not be tolerated and people risk being removed from the queue. The official guidance urged people to “dress appropriately for the occasion to pay your respects”, banning clothes “with political or offensive slogans”.
What will the queue route be?
Details of the route for the lying-in-state queue will be published at 10pm tomorrow, the night before the lying in state begins. Officials have said they may close early to ensure as many visitors as possible can enter before the lying-in-state period comes to an end.
Where does the tradition of lying in state originate?
Lying in state is a tradition that “stretches back to the 17th century when Stuart sovereigns lay in state for a number of days” after their death, reported ITV.
Edward VII “set the modern tradition” when he lay in state in Westminster Hall in 1910, added The Guardian. King George V also lay in state after his death in 1936, as did George VI – the Queen’s father – when he died in 1952.