The queue to see the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall has started to become an event in itself, as it stretches across central London.
The doors only opened for the general public to view the Queen’s coffin – covered in the Royal Standard and decorated with the Imperial State crown – at 5pm on Wednesday.
Some reports initially estimated that the queue could go on for up to 30 hours. By Thursday morning, it was already at around the eight-hour mark, and around 2.8 miles long, from Westminster to Southwark Cathedral.
The government’s culture department has even set up a live tracker on YouTube so everyone can monitor the queues, while the BBC has a live stream of the Queen lying in state for anyone wanting to pay their respects virtually.
But, apparently, there were still plenty of people who are happy to queue for their chance to walk past the Queen’s coffin.
In fact, the queue had to close when it exceeded five miles – a distance it would take two hours to walk quickly – on Friday because there’s no guarantee people after this point would get to the front by Monday...
Unsurprisingly, the queue has since taken on a life of its own.
One person’s Twitter thread went viral on Wednesday afternoon, when the Westminster Hall doors had not officially opened but people were still starting to queue across the capital.
The thread began: “I don’t particularly care either way about the Queen. But the queue? The Queue is a triumph of Britishness. It’s incredible.”
This initial tweet alone has close to 70,000 likes within less than 24 hours of posting – and the entire thread gave The Queue a capital letter (as it deserves).
The Twitter user explained that they did not mean the “purpose” of the line, or the emotion of the event, but the patient waiting.
“It is the motherlode of queues. It is art. It is poetry. It is the queue to end all queues.”
Local restaurants stayed open to provide food for those queuing overnight, there are portaloos dotted along the route and water points to make sure people stay hydrated.
The Twitter user pointed out that there are rules surrounding the Queue too – people cannot wear clothing with political or offensive slogans and phones cannot be used inside the building.
Each person gets one wristband, and cannot give that to anyone else.
It’s also a standing queue, so you cannot sit down or grab a sleeping bag at any point, or you will lose your spot.
The Twitter user explained: “To join The Queue requires up to the minute knowledge of where The Queue is now.”
They added, passionately: “NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD JOIN THE QUEUE AND YET STILL THEY COME.”
“We are a deeply, deeply mad people with an absolutely unshakeable need to join a queue. It’s utterly glorious,” they concluded.
This last tweet has close to 30,000 likes – clearly plenty of other Twitter users in agreement.
Other people on Twitter have also dubbed it “peak Britain” or the “final boss of queues” and demanded a Twitter account just for the line. Another person joked that this was the real “Elizabeth line” rather than the new underground line which the Queen officially opened during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations back in June.
Estimates vary significantly, but some claim around 750,000 visitors (or even one million) are expected to queue over the next four days. Even if The Queue is closed, the Westminster Hall doors will remain open to the public for 24 hours a day (until they shut on Monday at 6.30am).
This is hours before the state funeral begins, and the coffin will be taken in a military procession to Westminster Abbey.