The the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II is predicted to have drawn in over four billion viewers from around the world, making the event the most watched broadcast in history. This is not, however, the first time the Queen has broken television records, as her Coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised, reaching over 27 million in the UK and many millions more abroad.
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was the first state funeral held in Britain since that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, and the first for a British monarch to be held in Westminster Abbey since 1760.
After four days of lying in state during which an estimated million people filed past the late monarch’s coffin to pay their respects, the service took place on Monday, September 19.
As London swarmed with hundreds of thousands of mourners and royal fans, the ceremony itself was attended by 500 of the world’s foremost political leaders, dignitaries and royals.
After a record-breaking reign, Her Majesty’s funeral service has been tipped to go down in history as the most watched television broadcast in history.
Currently, the most watched event on TV in the UK remains the funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales, which took place 25 years ago on September 6, 1997 and drew in an average of 32.1 million people.
With an estimated 19.3 million tuning in via BBC One and 11.7 million on ITV at home, global audiences figures are said to have reached 2.5 billion.
To this day the most-watched event in TV history is the Atlanta Olympics opening ceremony of 1996, which drew in 3.6 billion viewers.
Until the Queen’s funeral, not a single event has come close to matching those ratings.
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Despite its magnitude and relevance, the Apollo 11 moon landing was only watched by 652 million people – though in 1969, fewer people had television sets in their homes than today.
In the run up to US broadcaster CBS’s coverage, a senior producer claimed it would be “the world’s greatest single broadcast” in television history.
In a triumph of technical innovation for its day, the event was broadcast live all over the world except in China and the Soviet Union.
All three UK television channels at the time, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV provided extensive coverage, most of the footage of which has unfortunately since been wiped or lost.