People stand in unbelievably long line to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The story today was all about “the queue.” That’s the line that people have been standing in, for many hours, to see the Queen.  More accurately, to see the Queen’s coffin.  So many people joined the queue that Friday that officials had to say, “no more.” At 9:30 am, it was announced via social media that no new people would be allowed to join the queue until further notice.

It stretches for hours.  It’s 5 miles long. And next to the Queen, it’s the talk of the town. I spent time today walking the queue, talking to just a few of the tens of thousands of British citizens who decided to make the journey no matter how long they had to wait.

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“I’ve never seen anything as long as this before,” one man told me undaunted. “We love a queue,” he said. And they do. The French word for an animal’s tail, Brits have been queuing up for years. The history of Brits and queues started back in World War II when London was under attack and people were forced to stand in line to get food rations.  Standing in lines has sort of become a part of the British culture, like it or not, ever since.

“We don’t push in,” an elderly woman tells me, bragging about the good behavior most Brits display while standing on queue.  “We’re very good.”  I asked if anyone ever tries to jump the queue?  “Oh, they better not try. We did have one try, but we sorted that out.” She may have been small and pushing 70, but she did not look like someone to mess with.

Young, old, man, woman and child, they get a wristband and they walk.  And walk.  And walk.  The queue is also a place to socialize.  And, why not? You’re going to be with your queue-mates for hours.

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“We got on the train at 5,” a woman told me, explaining when she left her house.

“On the train at 5 a.m.,” I repeated, trying to do the math.  They said it took an hour and a half to get to the queue.  It was 3:30 p.m.  “Wow,” I said, “you’re a hearty bunch.”

“That’s the British for you,” the 70-something said proudly.

I spoke to an 11-year-old girl on the queue with her mother.

“You have snacks,” I noticed as she pulled some sort of taffy candy thing between her two front teeth. “What else do you have with you?”

She held up a book. “Yes, I bought this a minute ago and I have lots of food,” she said though I could only see her taffy.


A woman in front, not the girl’s mother, held up a paper cup. “And a G&T!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, you have cocktails on the queue,” I laughed. “I like that.  Nice, very nice.”

As my new friends kept on with their candy and drinks, British soccer star David Beckham was about to get his few seconds in front of the Queen. And though he probably could have skipped the queue, he waited just like everyone else.  

After emerging from Westminster Hall where the Queen lies in state, he was swarmed by the crowds, telling a reporter he’d shown up at the end of the queue at 2 a.m. wearing a hat, thinking it would be a quieter time to go and that the hat would disguise him. He admitted to buying his queue-mates donuts to keep them from blowing his cover. But he wound up waiting 13 hours. One of the most famous men in Britain and known around the world. The video feed from inside the hall showed him shedding a tear as he walked by the Queen’s coffin.

By around 6 p.m., the queue was back open.  New people were allowed to join in at the end.  But as of this writing, the wait is more than 24 hours. So, if you’re planning on coming, better load up on the candy and gin.