Both House of Parliament assembled in Westminster Hall earlier today to give humble tributes to our new King, Charles III.
It was a wonderful, moving occasion - both to pay tribute to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to welcome our new King.
The Cabinet office has now announced initial details for people wishing to come to pay their respects at the coffin of HM Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall, but work is going on all the time so everyone should check online on a regular basis. Very considerable arrangements have already been finalised though.
- Westminster Hall will be open to the public from 5pm on Wednesday after the Queen’s coffin arrives earlier that afternoon. It will remain open 23 hours a day (with a brief break each night for maintenance) until 6.30am on Monday morning ahead of the gun carriage procession to Westminster Abbey for the funeral at 11am that morning. Depending on numbers the queue will be closed well before 6.30am
- The route for queuing has yet to be announced so pleased do not pitch up early as you may be in the wrong place!
- The queue will be closely managed as numbers are expecting to be considerable, and well beyond the 200,000 who came to pay respects to the Queen Mother in 2001. There will be professional stewards supplemented by civil servants, scouts etc.
- People are likely to be given wrist bands once they are officially in the queue and can keep their space with others in their group in order to make food & drink or loo visits etc. There will be cafes and other outlets open along the route providing refreshments and to make their loos available on top of 500 portaloos which have been ordered.
- There will be a second accessible queue for those genuinely with disability or who are too frail to be expected to spend a considerable time on their feet in the main queue. Stewards will be responsible for diverting such people to a separate queue on the day. Other support services such as the Red Cross, St John Ambulance and Samaritans will also be on hand to aid people queuing. There will also be water stations and various entertainment provided along much of the route, especially near the end to keep everyone’s spirits up.
- People are asked not to bring any luggage other than small handbags and will not be able to take any liquid into Westminster Hall. Ponchos and blankets will also be available if needed and hopefully the weather forecast will remain fine.
- Visitors are asked to dress appropriately soberly. Those who are entitled to and wish to can wear military uniforms for example.
- There will be digital information boards available along the route and real time information online to give people an idea of how heavy the queues are at any one time.
This is a mammoth operation on the scale of the Olympics with the added security implications of many world leaders coming to London at the same time too. Hopefully the widely acclaimed success of handling the surge of visitors to the London Olympics has given valuable guidance to make this operation go as smoothly as possible but everyone is asked to be patient and understanding.
Further details can be viewed here - Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
I will continue to post information as we receive it.