September 2022

The Queue

This blog focuses on what became a national phenomenon during the Lying-in state of Queen Elizabeth II. The formation and process of queuing to see the Queens coffin and pay one’splan respect. 

The Queen Elizabeth II funeral plan was called Operation London Bridge. The plan covered the arrangements of her state burial, the declaration of formal national mourning, and the news of her passing. Prior to her passing in 2022, the plan underwent several revisions beginning in the 1960s.

The custom of placing a deceased official’s remains in a state building, either outside or inside of a coffin, to allow the public to pay their respects is known as “lying in state.” It usually occurs in the capital city or state’s main legislative building. A viewing that takes place somewhere other than the main government building is sometimes referred to as “laying in repose,” however the custom varies by country. This type of wake or viewing is more official and open to the public. Often, a state funeral comes after lying in state.

On Wednesday, September 14, at 5 o’clock, the public is welcome to view the Queen’s lying-in-state at the Palace of Westminster. It was pen twenty-four hours a day till Monday, September 19 at six thirty in the morning. To ensure that as many guests in the line as possible could enter the Palace before the period of Lying-in-State expires.

Large crowds where anticipated, and was possible that there would be delays on the public transportation system and local road closures. 

Visitors would go through security checks like to those at airports, and there where stringent limitations on what you could bring in. Only little bags where allowed. 

The planned queue

Images of the queue

Photographs from the national press

Along the Thames

Through London


Using green spaces

From the air

Looking down on the queue

Through the night

24hr a day

The live updates

Shaping the queue

The below information formed part of the planning for the lying-in-state. This provides an insight into the planning that took place to account for the anticipated crowds.

Queue route announced for Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State

The route for Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State has been announced by DCMS

Her Majesty The Queen's Lying-in-State at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament

Attending ceremonial events for the Lying-in-State and the State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen

Expert views

"So long as people know what's happening, what's expected of them, how long it's going to take, they no longer face the uncertainty,"
Prof Keith Still
"The wait in the queue to see the Queen lying in state “is part of what makes it meaningful”." Channel 4 News
Prof Stephen Reicher

“Nobody’s ever seen a queue as long as this before,” Wired Magazine
Andy Hollinson

Queen Elizabeth II: The Queue and the Cumbria expert who helped plan it

By Francesca Williams
BBC News

A global guide to queuing philosophies, from Wimbledon to São Paulo

By Rosie Spinks


The Art of Queuing

Nick Shackleton-Jones

CEO and Founder, Shackleton Consulting


How to Design the Perfect Queue, According to Crowd Science

The line to see Queen Elizabeth II lying in state is snaking across central London. Could it have been done better?

There are various ways that individuals may affect how we act, but one of the most crucial ones may be the fact that their presence seems to create expectations

Instead of expecting random behaviour from others, we anticipate predictable behaviour in predetermined circumstances. Every social setting has its own specific standards on how to behave “properly.” These standards may differ from group to group.

When we consider the roles that people perform in society, these expectations become clear in some ways.

Social norms are the unspoken guidelines for what is believed to be appropriate in a certain social group or culture. Norms provide us an anticipated model of behaviour and serve to bring stability and predictability to social interactions. For instance, we demand that students do their work and appear on time for class.

Grasp social influence in general and compliance in particular requires an understanding of norms. Social groups’ recognised rules of conduct are known as social norms.

The Social Norms of Waiting in Line

David Fagundes

University of Houston Law Center

The Psychology of Queuing

Furnham, Adrian; Treglown, Luke; Horne, George

Norwegian Business School

Cutting in Line: Social Norms in Queues

Gad Allon, Eran Hanany

Informs Pubs Online

Intrusions into waiting lines: Does the queue constitute a social system?

Schmitt, B. H., Dubé, L., & Leclerc, F. (1992).

APA Psycnet

Crowds in front of bottlenecks at entrances from the perspective of physics and social psychology

Juliane Adrian, Armin Seyfried and Anna Sieben

The royal society

Why do people follow social norms?

Jörg Gross Alexander Vostroknutov

Science Direct

I’m an expert in crowd behaviour – don’t be fooled that everyone queueing in London is mourning the Queen

Stephen Reicher

Despite what we hear from the media, the reasons so many are gathering are complex and various.

Britain is in mourning. This is affirmed every time we turn on the television and see the huge numbers of people watching royal processions, or willing to queue for long hours to file past the Queen’s casket. They have gathered, we are told, “to pay their respects”. They are there “to thank the Queen”. Above all, they are “united in grief”. In this way, a picture is built up of a homogenous national community defined by its love of monarch and monarchy. But things are not that simple.

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