British International School, Phuket
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search

Britain draws pride from ‘The Queue’ for their queen

Britain draws pride from ‘The Queue’ for their queen

LONDON: Orderly and good-natured, the enormous waiting line to see Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin is being hailed as a triumph of Britishness in a country that prides itself on its queueing finesse.


Friday 16 September 2022, 12:09PM

By lunchtime yesterday (Sept 15), the queue was four miles (6.4 kilometres) long and growing. Photo: AFP

By lunchtime yesterday (Sept 15), the queue was four miles (6.4 kilometres) long and growing. Photo: AFP

“We British this is what we do, queue in the rain,” Jacob Lovewell, a 29-year-old who works in marketing, told AFP as he waited patiently in the slow-moving file as it snaked along the southern bank of the river Thames.

The line, which started forming more than 48 hours before people were first admitted to see the coffin lying in state in parliament, has its own YouTube channel and livestream.

Plastered over newspaper front pages, it is quickly becoming known simply as “The Queue” - upper-cased and with no other identifying information required.

By lunchtime yesterday (Sept 15), it was four miles long (6.4 kilometres) - and growing - with people facing a wait of more than seven hours to glimpse the coffin which is on display in parliament’s historic Westminster Hall until Monday.

Strict rules mean no photography and no loitering in front of the casket, leaving well-wishers with only a few seconds to pay their respects after a trial of endurance to get there.

But those waiting have almost no complaints, not even bleary-eyed admirers of the late sovereign who spent the night shuffling along the pavement or woke up before dawn to travel to the capital.

“It’s brilliant,” said Lisa Doodson yesterday as she crossed Lambeth Bridge, with the spires of Westminster finally in sight.

“Everyone’s happy... Everyone is so helpful.”

War legacy

The spectacle, being broadcast live on British TV channels, has sparked admiration online.

“If you’re British, this is the queue you’ve been training for all your life. The final boss of queues,” one Twitter user, @JofArnold, wrote in a widely shared post.

“I don’t particularly care either way about the Queen. But the queue? The Queue is a triumph of Britishness,” wrote @curiousiguana.

“Tell me this isn’t the greatest bit of British performance art that has ever happened? I’m giddy with joy.”

Queues and the ability to queue, have long formed a curious part of Britain’s self-identity along with often idealised commitments to notions of “fair play” and politeness.

Rather than a sign of bad management, the hours-long wait to enter the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament is seen as part of the experience, while the tailbacks for the famed Glastonbury music festival are also part of its folklore.

Social historian Kate Bradley at the University of Kent told AFP that queuing became wrapped up in national mythology during World War II, when rationing was introduced, and people faced long waits for every-day items like bread and butter.

“Obviously there were queues before the Second World War, but tolerating the distress became a virtue during the war,” she said. “Queueing is a form of stress on your body, but it became a way of showing that you are contributing to something bigger than you.”

Bradley noted that in modern Britain most queues were seen as frustrating as anywhere else in the world and that it was wrong to imagine orderly lines were exclusively British, or even a reality across the country.

Making friends’

“Personally, I can’t cope with a queue of more than five minutes,” added the historian, who has studied the psychology of queues and is currently working on the history of telephone hotlines.

“Other countries queue, but it has become a sort of shorthand about talking about Britain and it conveniently fits with ideas about British people being emotionally distant, uptight, and holding back.”

Bradley underlined how technology being used for the queen’s admirers had also helped reduce one of the great strains of waiting in line: fear of the widely despised queue-jumper.

People joining the line are given an electronic bracelet which shows their position.

It also allows them to leave to go to the toilet or buy food and drink - before returning to their spot.

Hundreds of volunteers from the Red Cross, the Scouts and other charities are also on hand along with soldiers and police.

Around 500 toilets have been erected along the route in what has so far been an organisational success story.

Asked about the risk of queue-jumping, a government insider sounded confident in the strength of “self-policing”.

“People are making friends with each other in the queue. They know the people who are around them and they’re supporting each other in being able to nip off,” he said Wednesday.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

* (Not Hotmail/Outlook)

Kurt | 18 September 2022 - 11:00:22

Yesterday and today, Kings, Queens, Presidents from all over the world flying in at London. This afternoon King Charles welcome them during a reception at Buckingham Palace. Has King Rama X already arrived in London?


Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Phuket Opinion: Protecting a vested interest

AoT a total corrupt organisation, i would stand with M Surya and never ever use airport taxi for any...(Read More)

Phuket has more than 6,000 taxis ready to serve tourists

and most tourist wont dare t call any of those 6000 crooks that are more dangerous than a drug deale...(Read More)

Court rules Prayut has not exceeded 8-year limit as PM

A very sad day for the majority of people in Thailand indeed. Except for the HiSos and well connecte...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: Protecting a vested interest

Very good article PN. Maybe the problem is further complicated because those officials higher up are...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: Protecting a vested interest

Wow, a great Opinion piece. And so very true. A real hitting the nail on the head. Very well expo...(Read More)

Phuket has more than 6,000 taxis ready to serve tourists

Only 500 tuk tuks?!! Are they sure of that number? Pre covid days it looked like at least 10 times t...(Read More)

Phuket Health Office: Follow COVID measures despite easing of measures

Forget the bit about the wearing of masks. If you look around pretty much everywhere you see tourist...(Read More)

Layan Beach demolition begins

Estimated by whom? Why even bother stating estimated value of the land in question. If anything it w...(Read More)

AoT claims airport security as reason for ‘approved’ taxi drivers

Complete BS! Seriously, how do they expect people to believe the shite they sprout. Next they will b...(Read More)

Layan Beach demolition begins

@Capricornball...yes, Tony's, Paul's and every place in between have been flattened but ther...(Read More)