The British have all the time had a repute as a nation of queuers, however even by our requirements these previous few days have been rather a lot. As the late Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin sits in London’s Westminster Hall, 1000’s of individuals have queued up to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving monarch. To manage this miles-long line, which many have taken to merely calling The Queue, the British authorities has turned to platforms together with Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to present up to the minute updates.
Although The Queue is at present at capability, with the federal government advising new folks not to be part of it, as of 9AM UK time this morning DCMS reported that it was 4.9 miles (practically 8km) lengthy , with an estimated queuing time of 14 hours. That’s over half a day of gradual shuffling to spend, at most, just a few transient moments in the identical room because the late Queen’s coffin.
Multiple instances a day, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been tweeting out updates about The Queue, noting the size of the road, in addition to how lengthy new joiners ought to count on to wait earlier than reaching Westminster Hall. The Twitter account has additionally been utilizing the geolocation service What3Words (a service that assigns three quick phrases to determine particular GPS areas) to level folks in direction of the precise location of The Queue’s finish.
But for anybody that wants much more up-to-date Queue data, there’s additionally a DCMS YouTube livestream, which comprises up-to-the minute details about the road of mourners snaking their means over Westminster Bridge and alongside the south financial institution of the River Thames. As of this writing, a little bit beneath 9 thousand individuals are watching.
There have been hiccups with the expertise used to tame The Queue. Gizmodo reports that a number of of the What3Words areas tweeted out by DCMS have pointed to incorrect areas as far afield as California thanks to minor typos within the geolocation phrases. For instance, what ought to have been retailers.view.paths (a sq. simply north of the Tate Modern, London) was by accident tweeted as retailers.views.paths (which factors to Charlotte, NC).
But what does all of it imply? I like this take from Twitter user @curiousguana, who asks whether or not The Queue might be “the greatest bit of British performance art that has ever happened?”
“It is the motherlode of queues. It is art. It is poetry. It is the queue to end all queues,” they write. “It opened earlier today and is already 2.2 miles long. They will close it if it gets to five miles. That’s a queue that would take two hours to walk at a brisk pace… You cannot have a chair and a sleeping bag. There is no sleeping in The Queue, for The Queue moves constantly and steadily, day and night.”
Writing in The New Statesman, Marie Le Conte muses whether or not “the Queue is, in its own British way, a textbook example of the ways in which people deal with grief. Something big and terrible has happened and you don’t know what to do with yourself, so you throw your whole being into something a bit absurd instead.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s loss of life is a type of odd nationwide moments that’s exhausting to correctly interact with. It’s not an occasion you bodily have to present up for like an election or a serious sports activities match, it’s simply… within the air. In this second, The Queue is without doubt one of the few tangible issues you’ll be able to really work together with and get a way that you simply’re taking part in a second in historical past.
When Elizabeth II’s father King George VI died in 1952, a similarly lengthy line of mourners fashioned to pay their respects. In a bit revealed that yr concerning the so-called Great Queue, Time noted that “no one could measure or plot precisely the serpentine columns of human beings that formed and reformed, doubled, branched and coiled back again along London’s streets and across chilly Thames bridges, to get a last glimpse of the dead King’s coffin.” 70 years later, as the online and GPS expertise enable us to monitor the undulations of The Queue on-line in minute element, the state of affairs couldn’t be extra completely different.