Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral was this last Monday, but for four days before that, the public were given the chance to pay their respects. Chrissy Heerey, the last person in the now infamous queue, called the opportunity ‘a real privilege.’
After passing away on September 8th, Queen Elizabeth II’s death has brought the UK to a standstill. Transported from Balmoral to London, the public were allowed to visit the Queen’s coffin as she lay in state at Westminster Hall prior to her funeral.
Many people flocked from every corner of the country, as well as many who came from abroad to visit the Queen and pay their respects.
In order to accommodate the mass numbers of people who came, a queue formed to get everybody through quickly. It ran from Westminster all the way to [HERE].
The queue was widely reported on, with constant news coverage and updates via news channels and social media.
At its longest, the queue covered seven miles, and those in the queue were waiting over 24 hours.
The queue, with its popularity and complete uniqueness as an event in the public eye, drew many commentators on social media.
Some saw the queue as the ultimate sign of Britishness.
If you’re British, this is the queue you’ve been training for all your life. The final boss of queues. pic.twitter.com/5auXopBfOr— Jof (@JofArnold) September 13, 2022
While others found it a great opportunity for a joke.
British people will literally queue for 12 hours and say it’s the best experience of their life— Lydz (@LydzTM) September 20, 2022
Many found it a beautiful symbol of the legacy Queen Elizabeth II has left behind her as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
The UK should be proud. I’ve never seen an event, an historical event, such as this. The unity is inspiring from the queue to all the branches of the military and everything in between. This was phenomenal to watch from the US!— NaomiSky15 (@NaomiSky_15) September 20, 2022
In preparation for her funeral, which occurred on Monday 19th September, Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state had to be brought to an end. This meant cutting off the queue, and only allowing those left to pay their respects.
The BBC spoke to Chrissy Heerey, who took the strange position of being the final person in the queue.
Heerey said that this opportunity was “one of the highlights of my life”. This was her second time in the queue, having visited the Queen earlier in the week. The experience was “very surreal”.
“I couldn’t believe I was there,” she said. “I just felt very honoured that I had the opportunity to be able to go in there and see her and say my farewell.”
Many made friends with those around them in the queue, and Heerey was no different. Sima Mansouri, the second-to-last person allowed to see the Queen, said she believed she and Heerey would be ‘friends for ever’ due to the experience they had shared.
“Everybody just wanted to come together and be happy and peaceful and talk about memories … [Chrissy] was a little nervous, being the last person, but I said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. I’m here’.”
The queue comes to an end
Though Heerey was the last in the queue, the last person to mourn the Queen in this fashion was actually Black Rod Sarah Clarke, who is a senior officer in the House of Lords.
The last visitors left Westminster hall at 6:30 a.m., in time for the Queen to begin the funeral procession.
The queue has been regarded differently by different citizens, royalists and anti-royalists alike. This moment in British history, while ginormous in its magnitude, is in many ways highlighting some of the splits in political values across the country.