How many people waited to see the Queen Lying in State, and how long was the queue at its peak?

The queue to see the Queen Lying in State stretched into the hundreds of thousands. Credit: AP

Hundreds of thousands of people waited in line to pay their last respects to the UK's longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as she lay in state in Westminster Hall before her funeral.

The queue, which had its own tracker, became something of an institution in its own right as people commented on how quintessentially British it was.

At one point there was even a queue for the queue, after entry to the official public line was temporarily paused.

Stories emerged of strangers sharing their food and drink, and even coming away with new friendships.

The queue affectionately earned the nickname 'The Elizabeth Line' and sparked amusement on social media, with one person posting: "If you're British, this is the queue you've been training for all your life."

Here are some of the key facts and moments about the queue.

How many people queued to watch the Queen lying in state?

It is estimated that around a quarter of a million people paid their respects in person, although numbers are still being crunched.

People file past the Queen's coffin during the lying-in-state at Westminster Hall. Credit: PA

How long were people waiting in the queue at peak times?

Wait times stretched to more than 25 hours, and at one point entry was paused altogether when the queue reached capacity due to overwhelming demand.

But a second queue quickly began to form outside Southwark Park along Jamaica Road, leading attendants to reopen the gate shortly afterwards.

When did the queue open and close?

The lying in state period opened to the public at 5pm on Wednesday 14 September, with Westminster Hall open 24 hours a day to accommodate mourners.

Some people had already started to queue well in advance of this to ensure a place.

The queue was closed to new entrants just after 10:40pm on Sunday 18 September, and lying in state ended at 6.30am on Monday 19 September - the morning of the funeral.

A woman draped in the Union Jack stands in line to pay her respects. Credit: AP

What was the queue route and how long was it?

The queue route along the River Thames to Westminster Hall had the capacity to stretch for 10 miles.

From Albert Embankment, the queue ran along Belvedere Road behind the London Eye, and onto the South Bank where it followed the Thames past the National Theatre, the Tate Modern and the HMS Belfast, before passing under Tower Bridge and along to Southwark Park.

There was also an accessible queuing scheme available for people who needed it.

A map showing the full queue route along the River Thames. Credit: UK Government

Who was behind the official queue tracker?

The live video tracker was created by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) so that people wishing to join could pinpoint the location of the back of the queue.

Stuart Livesey, head of design and creative content for the DCMS, said the queue tracker was "brand new tech" that had been built by the team specifically for the job.

It streamed for more than 100 hours and racked up almost 10 million views.

Mr Livesey described how an "army of volunteers" had stood at the back of the queue to beam back their locations for tracking purposes, calling them "absolute heroes".

The DCMS Twitter account also regularly gave updates on estimated queueing times, where the queue ended at that time, and any relevant weather announcements.

People in warming foil queue braved the falling temperatures to pay their respects. Credit: AP

What was the atmosphere like in the queue?

The Press Association reported that there was "a tinge of sadness, overwhelming amounts of respect and lots of good-natured chatter" among those waiting to pay their respects.

Many formed a bond with those waiting beside them, sharing drinks and snacks and making conversation to pass the time.

Three well-wishers who befriended each other in the queue said there had been a friendly "camaraderie" among the crowd.

Amy Harris, 34, and Matthew Edwards, 35, met James Cross, 65, after getting the train to London from Birmingham to join the queue in the early hours.

Mr Cross said: "Everyone in the queue was very friendly, chatting and having a laugh. It was really quite lovely."

Mr Edwards said: "Everyone was offering biscuits, drinks," adding that the three now planned to have a pint together after the long wait.

Matthew Edwards, 35, James Across, 65, and Amy Harris, 34, after paying respects at Westminster Hall. Credit: PA

It was reportedly also not overly noisy despite the thousands of people, ranging from the elderly to babies in arms, joining the growing crowd.

Bonuses included mild temperatures in the early 20Cs, the rain mostly holding off and a picturesque route that took in landmarks including the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern.

Firefighters were seen handing out bottles of water, volunteers from the Samaritans were available and there was a noticeable presence of stewards, police and portable toilets along the route.

People of all ages waited patiently for their turn to see the Queen lying in state. Credit: AP

The UK chief commissioner of the Scouts said the mood among the crowds waiting to pay their respects was "friendly and poignant".

Carl Hankinson, who was among volunteers to monitor the queue throughout Victoria Gardens, said Scouts had been "on their feet 12 hours" a day to help ensure the smooth running of admissions.

Which celebrities were in the queue?

Many notable figures waited alongside members of the public as the queue snaked its way along the Thames.

David Beckham was among the mourners who waited in line for more than 12 hours to pay his respects.

He told ITV News: "I was so lucky I was able to have a few moments in my life to be around Her Majesty.

"A sad day, but it's a day to remember the incredible legacy she left."

  • David Beckham OBE speaks to ITV News correspondent Neil Connery in the queue

Other celebrities who waited in line to pay their respects were actress Tilda Swinton and television personality Sharon Osbourne.

TV presenter Susanna Reid and Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones were also spotted in the queue.

But ITV This Morning co-hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were the subjects of a social media backlash after they appeared inside Westminster Hall without having taken part in the public line.

They later said they were given official permission to access the hall for reporting purposes, insisting they would never jump a queue.

Meanwhile, former Home Secretary Priti Patel was spotted filling in as a volunteer marshal for those queuing to pay their respects to the Queen.

Photographs showed Mrs Patel in a blue high-vis jacket alongside fellow Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson on the final day of the monarch's lying in state.

Priti Patel volunteered as a queue marshal alongside fellow Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson. Credit: PA

Who were the first and last people in the queue?

The first mourner to pay her respects to the Queen at Westminster Hall was Vanessa Nanthakumaran, from Harrow in north-west London.

Ms Nanthakumaran, 56, queued for two days on Albert Embankment and said she felt "so privileged" to be part of history.

She added: "I lost my husband in February and [seeing the Queen’s coffin] helped me overcome the bereavement.

"It is helping me in the process of my husband’s death."

Vanessa Nanthakumaran was the first mourner to pay her respects to the Queen at Westminster Hall. Credit: PA

Chrissy Heerey, from Melton Mowbray, was the last member of the public into Westminster Hall - her second time around in the queue, after already filing past the coffin earlier during the night.

Ms Heerey said: "I was the last person to pay my respects to the Queen and it felt like a real privilege to do that."

"I'd already been round once - I went in at 1.15 this morning. It's one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here."

Ms Heerey added that she believed she would be "friends forever" with Sima Mansouri, 55, the person who queued patiently in front of her.

Chrissy Heerey was the final person in the queue to see the Queen lying in state. Credit: PA

Did people need a ticket to join the queue?

There was no ticketing system to join the queue - instead, people were given a coloured and numbered wristband upon joining.

The wristband was a record of when people joined the queue and did not guarantee entry to the lying in state.

Were people allowed to leave and rejoin the queue?

Yes - the wristband enabled people to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, before returning to their place.

Public toilets, drinking water and first aid stations were available at designated locations along the queue route.

What was the guidance for people in the queue?

People were advised to bring suitable clothing for the weather, food and drinks to consume in the queue only, a mobile phone charger, and any essential medication or medical equipment.

There were strict, airport-style restrictions in place for what all mourners were allowed to carry, and how they could behave as they entered Westminster Hall.

People were permitted to bring only one small bag per person, and were not allowed to take food or drink inside the hall.

Any confiscated food that was non-perishable and unopened was donated to charity.

Extra transport services, including additional night trains, were put on to help mourners get in and out of central London to pay their respects.

A number of roads around the queue area were closed to vehicle and bicycle traffic, and were only accessible on foot.