As the Queen returns to London, hundreds of thousands of people are making their way to the capital to pay their respects.
Doors to Westminster Hall will open at 5pm on Wednesday, and up to 400,000 people are expected to queue to see the Queen’s coffin as she lies in state ahead of her funeral on Monday.
Government guidance says the queue is expected to be very long, with people standing for “many hours, possibly overnight”, and with very little opportunity to sit down.
With a Thames-side 12-hour wait potentially ahead of mourners, stretching from Southwark Park to Westminster Hall – over four miles – it is not going to be an easy wait.
If you are choosing to join the queue, how can you make the experience bearable?
In classic UK fashion, it is damp, grey and a bit chilly in London this week. So if you plan on joining the queue, bring layers, waterproofs and something you will be comfortable in. Shoe-wise, comfy trainers or walking boots will keep your feet warm.
Avoid bringing big bags
According to government advice, “You are only permitted to bring one small bag per person into the Palace of Westminster. It must be smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm, with one simple opening or zip so you can move quickly through the security check.”
Anything bigger than this will need to go in the bag drop, which might make your overall queuing time longer – so keep this in mind if you want to bring tents and chairs along with you.
Making sure you have enough food and water for the queue is really important – no one wants to get 12 hours in and have to go home because of dehydration. However, you will have to go through airport-style security when you reach Westminster Hall, so be prepared with a clear bottle – you can’t take any other kind in. There will be shops open along the route, but leaving to get food could result in losing your spot.
Drinking water stations and portable toilets will be positioned along the route too.
Keep your phone charged
It could be helpful to take a portable charging bank for your phone, so you can stay on top of any news and weather updates.
In 2002 I queued to file past the Queen Mother lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall. Around quarter of a million of us did the same. My tactics were to join the mega queue very late at night - go for 0100 - 0500 if you can would be my advice #QueenElizabeth
— Angus Walker (@anguswalkertalk) September 12, 2022
While there’s no guarantee it will work, you could try to game the system by joining the queue late at night – hopefully cutting down your overall wait time. Luckily, extra trains are being scheduled at night, making getting to London easier.
Brits are notoriously good at queuing, so why not take the chance to get to know the people around you? Whether it’s playing games or chatting – we’ve been starved of social interaction for the past two years, so this queue could be a good way to make some new pals. Plus, it’ll help pass the time quicker.
Consider if you want to bring children
The queue might not be the best place for your little ones – long hours in the damp could lead to tantrums and irritability.