On Wednesday 14th September 2022, I joined 3 friends to see the Queen Lying-in-State in Westminster Hall inside Westminster Palace (the official name for the seat of the UK Parliament).
We spent 8.5 hours in the Queue and managed to be able to pay our respects to the Queen.
I put together this guide for others. Note I have no idea if our experience was typical and it was the first day of all the logistics, and also late at night (20:20 – 05:00 the next day).
I hope this post is useful!
Come see the Queen Lying-in-State said my friend Britt! Ok, I said, not quite knowing what I was getting myself into.
We joined “the Queue” at 8:20pm on Wednesday just under Southwark Bridge and just before 5am today, we were able to pay our respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who is currently lying-in-state in Westminster Hall inside the Palace of Westminster (UK Parliament).
If you’re going to be brave and join the Q between now and Sunday, here are some handy tips.
Where do I join the queue?
The queue starting point is dynamic. There is a YouTube channel that provides regularly updated information on where the queue starts.
The queue is a concertina and changes minute-by-minute (my Engineering “teletraffic models” lectures were kicking in here).
We joined the Q in the tunnel under Southwark Bridge at around 20:20 on Wednesday night.
How quickly does the Q move?
The first part up to behind London Eye (where you get a wristband to prove you’ve got this far) is fairly fluid (or was last night).
Where can you buy food and drink?
Many places along the way – once on Westminster Bridge and into the tightly managed part there are very few options.
What can you realistically take into Westminster Hall?
As per the Government guidelines here https://af.ht/lisq-guidelines
Small bag only. NO liquids. Not even liquid makeup.
Your water bottle needs to be emptied. Your perfume and hand sanitiser goes IN THE BIN so don’t bring it or be prepared to throw it away.
How long is the wait?
We waited 8.5 hours – no idea if this is typical as it was the first day of the Q.
Another friend went this morning and it took them 4.5 hours.
What is the longest part of the walk?
The two “snake lines” inside Victoria Tower Gardens – we spent 5 hours there to move 200m closer to the Palace.
Where do you get your wristband?
We got ours from behind London Eye (while in the Queue)
Can you leave the Q?
Yes, but they don’t take note of the random numbers on the wristband so unless someone is in the Q already and you know then expect dirty looks as you rejoin.
Also past Westminster bridge apart from 1 snack place and the Loo there aren’t opportunities to stray very far from the Q.
Do they police queue jumpers?
No, but there are multiple wristband checks. Get in line and get a wristband.
What are the security checks like?
Uniformed Police are on the x-ray scanners and metal detectors. This was the quickest part as there are around 16 lanes. They all look serious and know their stuff.
How long will you have to see the Queen lying in state?
From the top of the stairs to the exit was around 5 minutes – they move the Q along but you do get a chance to bow or curtsy. Here is a replay from the live-stream at the 05:54am point. You will see me come down the stairs at the 0:06 point on the video below.
Tips for the loos?
Once you are at the gates to Victoria Tower Gardens just off Lambert Bridge, there are loos under the bridge – do a hard left down the stairs and go there.
The toilets are split male/female and they are clean.
Your next chance for the loo in Victoria Tower Gardens may not be for an hour or two.
Once in Victoria Tower Gardens, there are TWO airport-style customs queues.
The first one seems to take an hour or so – with limited toilets.
The second section takes longer as the “lines” are longer however, there are more loos.
Once you reach the TV trucks with satellite dishes, you’re almost there!
Take a refillable water bottle. There are shops along the way, and once in the Victoria Tower Gardens, there are 2 – 3 places to refill.
Once you’re close to the Palace off Westminster Tower past the TV trucks you will have to empty your water and ALL liquids.
There were so many hand sanitiser bottles on top of the rubbish bins as well as deodorant bottles. Don’t take these unless you’re prepared to bin them before going in.
TOP TIP: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
You will be on your feet for multiple hours but walking slowly.
Go with a friend – yes you will make friends in the Q but nothing beats banter with a mate.
Take 2 decent phone chargers – you will want to take lots of photos and send them and this will chew up your battery.
When there is a chance to go to the loo, go to the loo.
My Mother’s advice is ringing in my ears “you should have gone before we left”.
Take snacks. Once on the walk next to St Thomas’ Hospital that runs parallel to the Parliament, there is ONE (during the day possibly two) places to buy snacks and hot drinks and there is always a queue.
From Westminster Bridge > Victoria Tower Gardens the places to buy anything are limited.
Watch the BBC live stream at https://af.ht/queen-livestream to see if you made it into history.
What an amazing experience and I’m so proud to be a dual Aussie-Britt and be able to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event in my home town.
But wait! There’s more.
Walking home along Birdcage Walk towards Buckingham Palace at 5:15am, we spied the King’s Guard practising for the funeral on Monday – a marching band all to ourselves!
Enjoy some photos below.