In the end, they put the Queen in the ground, and changed the national anthem. Next will come the new stamps, bank-notes, post-boxes, coins, and change all the jail names from Her Majesty’s Prison to His Majesty’s Prison. Before they put her in the ground though, the Queen’s coffin was displayed in Westminster Hall for a few days while the entire nation popped in to have a look. The whole thing was broadcast live, like they used to do with Big Brother, so I tuned in and sketched the view.
The Queue was a pretty big deal though wasn’t it. Not being in Britain, it feels like I have missed out on my home country’s massive cultural water-cooler moment. There’s no way I would have spent ten, eleven, twelve hours queuing up myself to see the big box they kept the Queen’s body in, though I would have probably gone down to draw the Queue. It was a Genuine Historic Occasion. The Queue itself became the attraction. People were probably queuing up to see The Queue. I’m surprised the government didn’t charge people a pound so they could use the alliterative phrase, “Queue for a Quid to see the Queen” (from the people who brought you “Bung a Bob for a Big Ben Bong”, which is a real thing an actual British government came up with).
For those who don’t know, The Queue (official title “The Queue to attend Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State”) stretched from Westminster Hall, where the late Queen lay-in-state, down Lambeth way (Oi! ‘Ave a banana), and all the way down the south bank of the Thames, where cab drivers once feared to tread, right past Tower Bridge, all the way into Bermondsey where it zigzagged round Southwark Park like a Pokemon Go party. It was said to be between five and ten miles long, and maybe half a million people lined up in total. Maybe more, almost certainly more. I would not have wanted to be in that line for so long, but it must have been infectious. Perhaps I’d have gone there and found it hard not to join The Queue. All sorts were in that Queue, even David Beckham waited in line for twelve hours, doing his bit, before going off to join a different Q, Qatar, as an embarrassingly well-paid ambassador. At the time, I wondered to my wife how long it might take until this particular Cultural Event is turned into a movie, a kind of ‘Love Actually’ style film, just called “The Queue”. It would feature seven or eight different storylines from people within The Queue, as they move along the Thames, people of all walks of life, with hilarious relationships forming, commentary on the 2020s-era cultural wars. Just like Love Actually it would feature many of the usual actors who show up in these types of things, your Grants, your Thompsons, your Neesons, plus a few newer ones like Tom Holland who would for some reason get into a caper that leads to him falling into the Thames and being fished out by a copper, probably played by Idris Elba or someone, and keep being made to go to the back of The Queue, blushing at the girls as he is dragged past a second or third time. There would be a few comedy cameos: Rowan Atkinson would have a small role as play that guard who fell over; Matt Lucas would play Boris Johnson in a mop wig; James Corden would be that awful bloke who rushed to the Queen’s coffin knocking down that little girl, annoying his grandmother who is played by Catherine Tate (there would be an after credit scene where we find out they actually got together and you see them having afternoon tea and the girl shoving Corden out of the way to get a coronation chicken sandwich, to rounds of laughter). There would be small cameos from famous Hollywood stars; Harrison Ford would play Joe Biden, and Mark Hamill would play one of the guards standing by the coffin, and Ford would say to him, “Aren’t you a little short for a Beefeater?” (Credit goes to my wife for that joke). But it wouldn’t be about the Royals or the VIPs, it would be about the Real People in The Queue, because the Real People are the ones who this whole Cultural Event really for. In fact we wouldn’t see The Royals at all, if they appear it would be just the backs of their heads (though we would find out later that they were cameos from other really famous people like Lady Gaga or Woody Harrelson). Between the actual movie bits there would be actual footage from The Queue with some of those real people, with the usual music, like those airport scenes in Love Actually. I actually kinda want to watch this film now. The taglines would be great/shite. “You can choose your friends…you can’t choose who you spend fifteen hours in a queue with” “The best things come to those who wait…in line” Etc and so on. It would be turned into a Broadway musical, “Queue: The Music”. Ok, this movie’s being made. “God Save The Queue”.