The Daily Telegraph

Queue to mourn could span 10 miles

- By Camilla Turner chief political correspond­ent

Inaccurate location codes showed the end of the queue to be in a village in West Yorkshire or in North Carolina

MOURNERS hoping to see the late monarch’s coffin lying in state in Westminste­r Hall were directed to California and then Yorkshire by the Government’s official online queue tracker, it emerged yesterday.

Those wishing to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II faced a 10-mile wait through central London, with the queue swelling in number from a handful of people in the morning to tens of thousands in a matter of hours.

Ministers have drawn up contingenc­y plans that will involve turning away the public from Southwark Park, the end point of the organised route, to prevent infrastruc­ture from becoming overwhelme­d.

Last night, civil servants at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) acknowledg­ed that human error was to blame for their live queue tracker promoting inaccurate locations.

The system, promoted heavily through all the DCMS social media accounts, relied on a third-party website called, which uses geographic­al co-ordinates to pinpoint a location correct to three square metres. Mourners were given a threeword code by DCMS which they had to copy and paste into the website, and were told that this would show them the precise location of the end of the queue.

The code is updated every few minutes, to reflect the new end point of the queue – but of the first five codes published, four led to the wrong place entirely.

The initial code given by DCMS showed a location in California, followed by one in Uxbridge. Two other codes were also inaccurate, one leading to Drighlingt­on, a village in West Yorkshire, and the next to North Carolina.

Officials at DCMS said the faults were down to human error as civil servants typed out the codes. After realising that this approach led to spelling mistakes, they moved to a new method whereby the codes were automatica­lly filled in.

Government officials involved in planning the event said they had consulted behavioura­l psychologi­sts to try to forecast people’s movements.

However, civil servants admitted they had no firm estimate for the number of people who would be queuing, saying it was impossible to predict.

Senior Whitehall officials insisted that they were actively encouragin­g people to pay their respects but wanted them to be fully aware of what to expect upon arrival.

The route of the queue, which could stretch out over 10 miles, finishes at Victoria Tower Gardens where “airportsty­le” security checks are carried out.

The first 6.9 miles of the line take in London Bridge, Southwark and Waterloo before finishing at Westminste­r. The final stage is at Southwark Park, where there is infrastruc­ture for a further three miles of zig-zag queues if needed.

If the 10-mile line reaches capacity, entry will be temporaril­y paused to prevent the queue infrastruc­ture from becoming overwhelme­d.

This means anyone who turns up at Southwark Park would be turned away and possibly told they could return later when there was more space.

The other circumstan­ce in which people could be turned away is before 6.30am on Monday, to make sure that everyone queuing gets to see the late Queen’s coffin before the state funeral begins.

Estimated waiting times will be displayed on large screens, visible to those in the queue, and will also be promoted on DCMS social media channels.

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 ?? ?? Mourners file past at Westminste­r Hall, above; the queue at Albert Embankment, top
Mourners file past at Westminste­r Hall, above; the queue at Albert Embankment, top
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