The queue to view the Queen’s lying-in-state will be temporarily closed to new entrants if it reaches 10 miles, it has been confirmed.
The route for members of the public waiting to pay their respects to Her Majesty during the four days her coffin will rest in Westminster Hall stretches 6.9 miles over the Thames and along the South Bank to Southwark Park.
But airport-style zig-zag queuing channels have been installed both in Victoria Palace Gardens and Southpark, increasing the full maximum length of the line to 10 miles.
New entrants to the queue will be paused when this point is reached, and will be halted altogether as the final viewing time of 6.30am on Monday approaches, to try to ensure that no-one who joins the line will be turned away at the door to Westminster Hall.
The Department for Culture has consulted with behavioural scientists to try to judge how tightly packed and slow-moving queues are likely to be, in order to make preparations for how to deal with what is expected to be massive logistical operation.
There are no official estimates for how many members of the public will join the queue, though insider said they were expecting “far more” than the 200,000 who filed past the Queen Mother’s coffin in 2002.
At any given point during the lying in state, which begins at 5pm on Wednesday, there will be more than 1,000 marshals, stewards, volunteers and police on hand to assist queuers and maintain order.
These include some 779 professional stewards per shift, assisted by 100 civil service volunteer marshals, 40 adult Scouts, 30 members of the first aid nursing yeomanry.
Some 10 members of the Red Cross will be on duty for each shift to assist those in the queue, along with 30 multi-faith pastors co-ordinated by Lambeth Palace and six Samaritans to help with any personal crises experienced by attendees.
In all, some 140 Red Cross volunteers, 120 from the Scouts, 170 from the Salvation Army and 600 from St John’s Ambulance will help with the operation, with 1,500 military personnel on stand-by if needed.