Mourners who have traveled to central London to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II should prepare for the long haul, as the expected wait time in the queue is now over 24 hours, according to the British government.
Earlier today, the queue to attend her lying-in-state was suspended. Entry has now resumed, but officials have warned that it may be paused again if it reaches capacity. Those already in line should also brace themselves for colder temperatures overnight.
Despite warnings of long wait times and pleas from officials for people to not gather in line to join the queue, hundreds of people have continued to make their way to Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin is on display 24 hours a day. More mourners are anticipated over the weekend.
“She did 70 years; 12 hours is nothing,” said May, an NHS worker whose previous experience with long queues was only her attempting to secure the latest Hello Kitty merchandise for her children.
“I had to be here. I had to do this before the clock chimes,” she told BuzzFeed News.
The suspension of the main queue resulted in a second queue for people who want to join the main queue, where attendees will receive wristbands that confirm their place in line.
Members of the public have been able to receive updates on the length of the queue and average wait times with the help of a live tracker created by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The line is over 5 miles long and extends from Westminster all the way along the river and past Southwark Park.
For those attempting to brave the estimated wait times, being fully prepared was imperative. Attendees told BuzzFeed News they were equipped with power banks and an array of food and beverages.
Utility provider Thames Water confirmed to BuzzFeed News in a statement that it had been recruited by the government to supply drinking water stations for those in line.
The message that the queue had been suspended appeared to not have reached all the stewards on the ground. Some continued to allow crowds intermittent access into Southwark Park, where the official queue begins.
On roads leading into the park, crowds of people gathered to form a pre-queue, and most who joined had a largely optimistic attitude about the wait ahead.
“I’m used to 12-hour shifts, we are both nurses. I’ve come prepared with everything like I’m going to work. I think I’m privileged to be here,” one attendee told BuzzFeed News.
Devoted royalists like Juanita Brett from Guildford, a town about 30 miles southwest of London, made her way to the city at 7:30 a.m. Brett had no intention of turning back despite the DCMS warning that the queue would be suspended.
“I like to look behind the mountain,” she told BuzzFeed News. She said she was prepared to do a 17-hour queue “for Queen and country” if necessary.
Soccer legend David Beckham was one of the famous faces captured in line. The 47-year-old told ITV News that he arrived at the back of the queue at 2 a.m.
“I grew up in a household of royalists and I was brought up that way. If my grandparents would have been here today, I know they would have wanted to be here, so I am here on their behalf and on behalf of my family and obviously to celebrate with everybody else here,” he said.
Beckham was presented with a prestigious Order of the British Empire award by the Queen in 2003 for his services to soccer.
The Queen's eight grandchildren, including the new Prince of Wales, Prince William, and Prince Harry, are scheduled to take part in a 15-minute vigil on Saturday at her lying-in-state, which is expected to draw even larger crowds than in the past three days.
The display will conclude on Monday morning, making way for her funeral, which has been declared a public holiday.