Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Mourners queuing for Queen’s lying in state damaged Westminster Hall

Queen’s lying in state ends as final mourner pays respects

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The constant stream of royal mourners during Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state period at Westminster Hall caused damage to the floor that survived a devastating blaze nearly 200 years ago, it has emerged. Following the Queen’s death in September, her coffin was transported from Balmoral to Edinburgh, before it was flown to London.

The lying-in-state period, when members of the public could view the Queen’s coffin in central London, began at 5pm on September 14.

Westminster Hall was open to the public 24 hours a day ahead of the Queen’s state funeral.

The infamous queue, dubbed by some “The Elizabeth Line”, after the London Tube line, was closed to new joiners just after 10.40pm on September 18.

The official lying-in-state period ended at 6.30am on the day of the state funeral.

Estimates put the total number of mourners at around a quarter of a million.

But the sheer quantity of people making their way through Westminster Hall on these days to pay their respects to the late Queen has taken its toll on the very building.

The almost two-centuries-old flooring was damaged following the lying-in-state period by “high-level continuous footfall”, despite a carpet being glued to the floor of the historic Hall, a House of Lords spokesperson said.

The result is a process called “delamination”, where stone turns a different colour to that surrounding it.

The spokesperson told The Telegraph: “As a consequence of the high-level continuous footfall through Westminster Hall during the lying-in-state some delamination to the Yorkstone floor has occurred.

“It has exposed some areas of bare stone that will blend in with the surrounding areas over time.

“This does not present a structural risk.”

The spokesperson added that the “delamination” will soon fade, leaving the legacy of the lying-in-state period largely invisible.

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They added: “[It] will blend in over time as it is exposed to the air so as it becomes unnoticeable.”

The estimated wait time for the lying-in-state, at its maximum, was thought to exceed 24 hours.

The queue stretched for 10 miles through central London, almost reaching seven miles in the stretch from Westminster to Southwark.

It then wound through Southwark Park for a further three miles.

During repairs in 1834, a fire broke out in the Palace of Westminster, although Westminster Hall was largely protected from the effects of the blaze.

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