British people are renowned for several great cultural contributions to the world: the works of Shakespeare, afternoon tea, Beatlemania, grabbing a cheeky Nando’s, and uncomfortable comedy TV shows that are later remade by Americans into more crowd-pleasing sitcoms.
But those pale in comparison to the UK’s greatest tradition: the queue.
Britons love to form a queue and wait patiently, whether it be to use an ATM at the bank, to board the tube, or to pay their respects to their late monarch.
Ever since the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II arrived at the Palace of Westminster (aka the British Parliament building) on Wednesday, countless scores of people have waited in a miles-long queue in central London to have a chance to say a final goodbye.
The Queue, as it has come to be called simply, is serious business.
Public toilets have been set up, while first-aid tents and water stations have also been erected.
The government has even set up a live tracker to give people an estimate of how long the wait times are and how far it stretches.
When the coffin arrived at Westminster and the public was first allowed in, some diehards had waited well over 24 hours to be among the first to pay their respects.
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By Thursday evening, the crowds had thinned (somewhat) and the line was moving (somewhat) faster. But earlier in the day, many were still experiencing wait times of about four to five hours or more.
This aerial footage — do watch the whole thing because it’s astonishing — will give you a sense of just how far it goes.
“I think it’s quite a mark of respect, the amount of people that are committed to being patient and queuing,” one volunteer queue steward told BuzzFeed News of the massive line. “Even if it rained, I think they’d still be here.”
Kate Fryer, a National Health Service worker who traveled from Kent, braved the queue for five hours on her own and with a bad hip.
The 44-year-old, who was supported with a walking stick, commended organizers for making the grueling process as accessible as possible for those with mobility issues.
“They’ve been so good. It’s so well organized,” she told BuzzFeed News.
When they reach the end of the line, mourners enter the solemn scene at Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin is lying in state, surrounded by ceremonial guards with a glittering crown lying on top.
A livestream from the BBC shows those queuing silently stopping beside the coffin. Some bow, some cry, but all feel a sense of history that seems hard to describe for those in line.
The Queen’s coffin will lie in state at Westminster Hall until Monday, when her funeral will take place across the street in Westminster Abbey.
The queue is expected to continue until then — as are the queue jokes and memes, which have dominated timelines around the world.
Here are 17 of the very best to keep you smiling if it’s 3 a.m. in London and you’re stuck in the queue.
Ade Onibada and Ikran Dahir reported from London. David Mack reported from New York City.