Accessible queue for Queen’s coffin permanently closes after reaching ‘full capacity’ | Queen Elizabeth II

The accessible queue for people with disabilities to see the Queen’s coffin has permanently closed after reaching full capacity.

People with disabilities wanting to pay their respects to the Queen had reported waiting for hours after the accessible queue, which had been temporarily closed, reopened earlier on Saturday.

The queue had built up while it was closed, and stretched for several miles by the time it reopened at noon.

In a statement the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The accessible queue for lying in state has reached full capacity and is now permanently closed.

“Wristbands for all time slots are allocated so that as many people as possible can pay their respects. Please do not join the queue at Tate Britain. Thank you for your understanding.”

Shortly after midday, the DCMS had said that the accessible queue had resumed after being “paused” on Friday evening.

Esther Andrews, a teacher from Portsmouth who has an injured leg, said she had managed to get a wristband for the 5-6pm slot shortly before the accessible queue closed, after waiting almost seven hours.

On hearing that it had been closed, the 30-year-old said: “That is such a shame, there was a such a huge queue of people behind us! It was about twice as long as when I joined it. Much better than the main queue, but still a very long time for people with disabilities.”

Earlier, Dr Erin Dooley said she had been unsure whether to make the hour’s journey from her home in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, because of what she called “spotty and misleading comms from the government”.

“All of my information to date has been from Twitter,” Dooley, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, said.

“An online booking system would have been best, an information app at the bare minimum.

“I have to provide proof of my disabled status for the most basic of services such as rail travel or theatre tickets, why not ask people to provide documentation of disability here?”

Matt Batten.
Matt Batten. Photograph: Charlie Moloney/The Guardian

Matt Batten, a 44-year-old communications director, said he had given up on the accessible queue after finding it was not moving for about half an hour and snaked from Westminster Hall, down Millbank and past the Tate Britain, almost two miles away.

Batten, who had travelled from Cardiff on Friday, said: “Clearly, there is a lot of determination to join the queue, but we were talking to a couple of people and they say they just could not stand it any longer. We saw a few disappointed people leaving the queue.

“I just wish there was a little bit more of a reality check on the accessible queue, a little bit of managing people’s expectations.”

No proof of disability was required to use the accessible queue.

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Stewards were handing out chairs and toilets were available at some points in the accessible queue.

Although the DCMS announced that mourners should only come as one person and one carer, some people reported seeing large groups arriving, though it was unclear whether they had hidden disabilities, as stewards were not asking for evidence.

Many elderly and frail people were in the accessible queue, as well as older service men and women wearing their medals.

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