LONDON - As thousands of mourners wait for their chance to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at Parliament’s Westminster Hall, the U.K. government has launched a live "queue tracker" to show people just how long the line stretches.
The live tracker, which is being livestreamed on YouTube by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, said the queue was approximately 4.2 miles long, as of Thursday afternoon local time. The nearest landmark to the back of the line was the Tower Bridge, it said.
The queen left Buckingham Palace for the last time on Wednesday in a solemn procession through the flag-draped, crowd-lined streets of London to the 900-year-old Westminster Hall. King Charles III, his siblings, and his sons marched behind the coffin, which was topped by a wreath of white roses and her crown resting on a purple velvet pillow.
The military procession underscored Elizabeth’s seven decades as head of state as the national mourning process shifted to the grand boulevards and historic landmarks of the U.K. capital.
Westminster Hall is now the focus of events, as the queen lies in state until Monday.
Now open to the public, the line snakes along the south bank of the River Thames and then over a bridge to Parliament.
Well-wishers stand in the queue for the Lying-in State of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 15, 2022, in London, England. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
The display of mass mourning is an enormous logistical operation, with a designated 10-mile route lined with first aid points and more than 500 portable toilets. There are 1,000 stewards and marshals working at any given time, and 30 religious leaders from a range of faiths stopping and talking to those in line.
People old and young, dressed in dark suits or jeans and sneakers, walked in a steady stream through the historic hall, where Guy Fawkes and Charles I were tried, where kings and queens hosted magnificent medieval banquets, and where previous monarchs have lain in state.
After passing the coffin, most mourners paused to look back before going out through the hall’s great oak doors. Some wiped away tears, while others bowed their heads or curtseyed. One sank onto a knee and blew a farewell kiss.
Keith Smart, an engineer and British Army veteran, wiped away tears as he left the hall. He had waited more than 10 hours for the chance to say his goodbye.
"Everybody in the crowd was impeccably behaved. There was no malice, everybody was friends. It was fantastic," he said. "And then, to come into that room and see that, I just broke down inside. I didn’t bow — I knelt to the floor, on my knees, bowed my head to the queen."
The U.K.’s government streamed live video displaying the length of the line to see the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II, along with its start and end points. The broadcast began at around 3 p.m. local time on Sept. 14, 2022. Credit: DCMS via Sto
Crowds have lined the route of the queen’s coffin whenever it has been moved in its long journey from Scotland — where the monarch died Sept. 8, aged 96 — to London.
On Tuesday night, thousands braved a typical London drizzle as the hearse, with interior lights illuminating the casket, drove slowly from an air base to Buckingham Palace.
Earlier, in Edinburgh, about 33,000 people filed silently past her coffin in 24 hours at St. Giles’ Cathedral.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed. Editor's note: Pool video has since been removed from this story due to usage restrictions from the royal family.