Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died one year ago today, and the world was in grief.
Six days later, a cultural phenomenon began that has become an important part of history and has resulted in an unanticipated conflict.
Mourners joined a huge queue to visit the Queen lying-in-state, united in their sadness for Britain’s longest-serving monarch. It snaked its way into the heart of the UK capital, with a quarter-million people expected to queue in less than a week.
Queuers waited up to 30 hours to be able to go past her coffin at Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster. While they spent many minutes alternating between day and night, the entire experience lasted only seconds once they were inside.
People who had never set foot in the line were also involved. Many of my friends were sending me updates, which they’d obtained by installing a monitoring software that tracked the duration of the massive wait.
The queue demonstrated two things: people adored the Queen, and queuing are in the British DNA. While everyone can queue, it is not in their personal brand, as it is in ours.
We are taught to walk, converse, and then queue. We do it perfectly whether we’re queuing for a refund at Zara, waiting to board an aircraft, or simply joining a clean line of people waiting patiently outside the new gourmet hotspot.
We stand quietly, conduct nice conversation with persons directly in front and behind us (rarely raising our voice over library level), maintain the queue straight if the situation allows and never, ever skip by anybody. That’s even more un-British than not loving tea.
The This Morning hosts (at the time) were given privileged entry to the venue on September 14, 2022.
More than my own family, I saw the photo of a solemn Holly, 42, and a somewhat guilty-looking Phil, 61, strolling by the Queen lying-in-state in the days that followed.
With their decision to stroll on through dominating headlines and group discussions, things went a little crazy. Thousands of people signed a petition demanding that they be taken from television entirely.
It became unavoidable, and This Morning executives released a statement insisting Holly and Phil did not skip ahead and were present to report on the event as journalists.
Even celebrities criticised the couple.
‘There have been quite a few familiar faces in the queue for that lying in state at Westminster Hall,’ Huw Edwards said during a news broadcast.
‘We did of course see a certain David Beckham there on Friday. He was widely praised for queueing for hours and hours, not jumping the queue because he’s a superstar VIP.’
Eamonn Holmes afterwards accused them of lying about why they were there.
Speaking on GB News, he said: ‘Let’s get on to the Queen’s funeral – they were there to make a film on the Queen’s funeral.’
He continued: ‘Unless there’s any documentary evidence of this, I would put it to you, that is another lie!’
Exactly one week later, the pair were forced to address the backlash on This Morning with Holly saying: ‘The rules were that we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back. In contrast, those paying their respects walked along a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.
‘None of the journalists and broadcasters there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one filed past the Queen.’
She continued: ‘We, of course, respected those rules, however, we realise that it may have looked like something else and therefore totally understand the reaction.’
The statement concluded with possibly the most British statement ever: ‘Please know that we would never jump a queue’.
A year on from the chaotic series of events, etiquette coach and former royal butler Grant Harrold, explained why the incident caused such outrage.
‘One thing that is typically British is that we know how to queue. It means you need to form a nice orderly line and wait for your turn,’ said Grant who spoke to us on behalf of Spin Genie.
‘It is old-fashioned etiquette that people abide by it to this day. It’s as important as it’s ever been, and we judge people’s character based on their ability to be polite. Queueing is part of manners.
‘We take it seriously. I would go as far to say, we can’t stand queue jumpers in this country. We find it rude and disrespectful.
‘Nobody wants to be that person who pushes in. If you do break that etiquette, it’s likely that you will be judged harshly, which is what happened.
‘Holly and Phillip were not related to the Royal family or closely linked to them, and it was therefore not acceptable in a lot of people’s eyes to be queue-jumping in such a major event,’ he concluded.
It wasn’t a good PR move – as we’ve stated, you don’t mess with British people and their lineups.
‘The public felt that Holly and Phil showed a lack of respect by jumping the queue and using their VIP status. It made them look out of touch with people,’ said Lynn Carratt from Press Box PR.
‘What made it worse for the pair was that they didn’t say sorry. There was an explanation but no formal apology or signs of remorse, so instead of making the situation better, it riled people up more. Sorry really did seem to be the hardest word for them.
‘Admitting their mistake would have gone a long way in helping them appease the public.’
While Holly and Phil appear to have made a mistake, some celebrities were able to gain popular favour with their queuing manners.
David, Susanna Reid, and Graham Norton all waited patiently and were greatly complimented for their resolve not to get any preferential treatment.
‘These celebrities showed how in touch they were with the mourning British public and how personally saddened they were by the Queen’s death,’ Lynn explained.
‘In contrast to Holly and Phil, David patiently waited for 12 hours despite being invited by an MP to have special access.
‘He joined in with the queue camaraderie and posed for selfies with fans. He said he had to queue as that was what his late Grandad would have expected. People respected him for it.’
Source My Celebrity Life.