Queen's five-mile route to Westminster Abbey laid bare as one million flock to London

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The Queen’s coffin arrives at Buckingham Palace

Thousands of mourners trying to pay their respects to the Queen are likely to be turned away before they reach Westminster Hall, it emerged today.

Public access to the Queen’s Lying-in-State in will be permitted 24-hours a day from 5pm tomorrow until 6.30am on Monday, the day of the funeral. Officials believe maximum capacity will allow around 330,000 to file past the coffin before the Lying-in-State ends.

The estimate assumes that people will pass through Westminster Hall at the rate of more than 50 every minute, day and night, for four-and-a-half days.

It is thought somewhere between 750,000 and one million people may be prepared to queue for the chance, meaning more than half will not make it. Last night the Government unveiled the five-mile long route for the queue stretching from Westminster Hall south along the river, across Lambeth Bridge and onto the Albert Embankment.

From there the queue will pass behind the London Eye onto the South Bank and past the National Theatre, Tate Modern and HMS Belfast all the way round to Southwark Park. Hopefuls are already sleeping on pavements to secure good places amid warnings the average wait could take 35 hours.

The Government has made seperate access plans for those less-able to queue including wheelchair users.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture Media and Sport, which is responsible for Operation Feather to control the queues, said: “The accessible route will begin at Tate Britain where timed entry slots will be issued for a queue heading along Millbank to the Palace of Westminster.

Queen's five-mile route to Westminster Abbey laid bare as one million flock to London

Queen’s five-mile route to Westminster Abbey laid bare as one million flock to London (Image: Getty)

Queen Elizabeth II

A million people are expected to gather to see Her Majesty (Image: Getty)

“Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other official assistance dogs will be permitted in Westminster Hall. British Sign Language interpreters will be available.”

More than 1,000 dedicated volunteers, stewards and Metropolitan Police officers will be on hand to assist members of the public wanting to pay their respects and keep them safe. Extra welfare facilities in place will include toilets and water fountains at various locations along the route.

Local organisations including the Southbank Centre, National Theatre, BFI Southbank and Shakespeare’s Globe will be opening their doors for extended hours to provide refreshments and comfort breaks to queuers around the clock. The BFI will have an outdoor screen showing archive footage of The Queen and Her reign.

Cafes and other local businesses are also expected to open for extended periods alongside welfare centres to provide refreshments for those in the queue.

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The coffin

Her Majesty’s coffin will be there for four days (Image: PA)

People queueing outside Buckingham Palace

The queues are expected to last for an average of 35 hours. (Image: Getty)

St John’s Ambulance will be stationed along the route to provide first aid if required. More than a hundred Scouts aged between 18 and 25 from across the UK will join volunteers from Samaritans to offer help where it is needed.

Once inside the Palace of Westminster, people will be able to walk past the Coffin which will be raised on a catafalque and draped in the Royal Standard, with the Orb and Sceptre placed on top. It will be guarded around the clock by a vigil of units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.

Visitors were warned they will have very little opportunity to sit down, as the queue will be continuously moving, questions have been raised over the accessibility of the occasion. People will not be allowed to camp and will be given numbered wristbands to indicate their place in the queue so they are able to leave and come back.

The DCMS issued further guidance to those queuing, reading: “When you reach the back of the queue, you will be given a coloured and numbered wristband. This is a record of when you joined the queue…having a wristband does not guarantee your entry to the Lying-in-State.

“Wristbands are specific to each person joining the queue, and are strictly non-transferable. You must keep this wristband on at all times as it will be checked along the route.

“Your wristband also allows you to leave the queue for a short period to use a toilet or get refreshments, then return to your place in the queue. Before entering the Palace of Westminster, everyone will be subject to an airport-style security search.”

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People queuing for the Queen

People are already queuing to pay their respects to the Queen (Image: Getty)

Person sleeping in queue

Some have even taken to sleeping in the queue (Image: Getty)

BFI Southbank will be open for 24 hours a day to provide facilities for queuers, while screening films featuring the Queen and her reign outside the building.

Meanwhile Michelle Terry, Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, said: “The Globe will be opening 24 hours a day and the theatre’s ‘Groundling Gates’ will be adorned with a wreath of remembrance made of rosemary – a reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, in homage to The Queen.”

Some 10,000 police officers will be on duty daily in London over the next week – with Simon Morgan, a former Metropolitan Police personal protection officer for the Queen, saying that Met protection teams will be ‘stretched’.

The Government set out guidelines on how people should behave and what they should wear, saying they should remain silent inside the Palace of Westminster. It urged people to “dress appropriately for the occasion to pay your respects”, banning clothes “with political or offensive slogans”.

A spokesman said: “Please respect the dignity of this event and behave appropriately. You should remain silent while inside the Palace of Westminster.”

Sign for the queues

Those queuing will be guided by signs and policeman (Image: Getty)

Government guidance stated: “Please note that the queue is expected to be very long. You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit down, as the queue will keep moving.”

It also asked people to think carefully about whether to take youngsters with them: “Please consider this before you decide to attend or bring children with you.”

Only bags smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm will be allowed into the hall. Larger bags can be left at the bag drop facility, but capacity is limited, it may be full, and waiting for a space will increase people’s queuing time.

Flasks or water bottles, except clear water bottles which must be emptied of their contents before the security search point are prohibited inside as are whistles, air horns and of course weapons.



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