Queue to see queen lie in state at capacity, closed for ‘at least 6 hours’

LONDON — The line to see Queen Elizabeth II lie in state at Westminster Hall — which Brits have affectionately dubbed “The Queue,” and which has taken on a life of its own in recent days as thousands wait for a glimpse of the monarch’s coffin — has grown so long that the government said Friday it would have to temporarily prevent new people from joining it.

“The Queue” — which began forming Tuesday before the start of the queen’s lying-in-state period — is officially five miles long, though in reality it is longer due to an uncounted section where it zigzags. It extends all the way from Westminster Hall in central London to Southwark Park, a more than 60 acre public park in south east London, according to a government tracker. Well-wishers have been warned they could face an at least 14-hour wait to reach Westminster Hall.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, the government department responsible for managing the queue, warned early Friday that entry to the line at Southwark Park would “be paused if it reaches capacity.”

Less than an hour later, at 9:50 a.m. local time, the department said entry would be paused for at least six hours and warned people not to “attempt to join the queue until it re-opens.”

The news will surely come as a disappointment to the people who have traveled near and far to pay their respects to the queen.

As The Washington Post’s Karla Adam has written, waiting patiently in long lines is a uniquely British skill with its own set of rules — get a wristband with a number and obey that number. Stay in the queue. Do not push or shove. Do not cut. This line in particular has people willing to brave the cold and the rain because it is a historic national moment: The queen’s lying in state will end at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, the day of the queen’s state funeral.

The funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey, and then she will be buried at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, bringing a 10-day period of national mourning to an end and ushering in a new era under the reign of her son, King Charles III.

The British love queues. The queen’s death brought one for the ages.

On Friday, a spokesperson for Kensington Palace said the queen’s grandchildren — including Prince William and Prince Harry — will hold a 15-minute vigil by her coffin Saturday evening. Her children — Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — are also set to hold their own vigil by her coffin at 7:30 p.m. local time Friday. Charles will also host faith leaders at Buckingham Palace Friday, following his return from Wales.

Karla Adam contributed to this report.

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