The (Queen’s) Queue took on a life of its own. How do we replicate that spontaneous culture of community and kindness to others?

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest at the conclusion of an unparalleled display of pageantry, the likes of which may never, ever be seen again. To say that her people did her proud would be a gross understatement. They came out in the hundreds of thousands to say thank you, to thank her for her grace, her dignity, and her 70 years of unstinting service. And they came out to witness a significant moment in history, to be part of saying goodbye to a monarch who saw their country and the world through profound changes.



But I don’t want to talk about Queen Elizabeth and her legacy, at least not per se. I don’t want to go over the continuing impact of colonization in many countries, including my own. I don’t want to consider the justification for continuing a monarchy which, despite its now non-political role, oversees an extraordinary collection of wealth in the form of stately homes, vast tracts of land in its Duchies, jewels, etc.  I want to talk about The Queue.


They estimate that 1,000,000 people were in London and Windsor yesterday to be part of the send-off of a beloved monarch. But aside from that, 250,000 people are estimated to have stood in lines – The Queue – for up to 24 hours – in order to have their own moment – actually a few seconds – to pay their personal respects to the Queen as she lay in State in Westminster Hall. For 4 full days, 24 hours each day, people queued to have that moment. They stood, in daylight and in darkness, for between 6 and 14 hours (24 hours was a rarity), for this privilege. At one point The Queue is said to have reached 10 miles (16 kms) in length. And what transpired, with a few minor exceptions, was what I think was the best tribute of all for a queen who devoted her life to service to others; people who were complete strangers and came from many different walks of life not only got along together, they helped each other and developed a sense of community – The Queue Community.



Celebrities like David Beckham and Sharon Osborne queued. People whose families had immigrated from commonwealth countries where their ancestors had been badly treated by their British colonizers queued. People who had voted to remain in the EU queued (according to one poll taken, 60% of people in The Queue were remainers). And they all treated each other as equals, with respect, curtesy, and mutual support. While standing in a never-ending queue for hours and hours. For some reason the situation brought out the very best in people. [I understand that there were some exceptions near the end of the 4 days, when the overnight temperatures dipping to near 0C and porta-potties being in short supply gave way to some frustrations, but these incidents appear to have been few and far between.]


So, the question I ask myself is: how do we bring out the best in our collective selves more often? It is such a rare occurrence these days. We do occasionally come together to celebrate common interests and we exhibit kindness towards our fellow human beings at those times. In Canada, that happens on Canada Day.  In schools and universities it happens at graduations. According to an acquaintance who went on the Hajj many years ago, the sense of camaraderie on that long pilgrimage was extraordinary and meaningful; people (men) of all classes and nationalities were all dressed in the same white robes and everyone was treated with the same degree of warmth and respect. We can do this, but why do we do it so infrequently? Why do so many events focus on the “we”s versus the “them”s? If we would only stop and think about how to build “big tents” for non-political purposes and actually find ways to appreciate each other’s company. Surely we can find an easier way than standing on a queue for many, many hours!

As I watched The Queue in utter fascination for those few days, I couldn’t help but think that the act of so many people getting along so well during those challenging hours was the best tribute of all to Queen Elizabeth, a monarch who put service first. The act of respecting the Queen brought out the best in nearly 250,000 people. And I also thought that the somehow positive experience those people shared, with people they had never met before and would likely never meet again (except for at least one couple who has started dating!), will stay with them for their lifetime. They experienced the culture of kindness.

May we all work at bringing out the best in ourselves as often as possible.

Thank you for your lifetime of service, Queen Elizabeth.


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25 Responses to The (Queen’s) Queue took on a life of its own. How do we replicate that spontaneous culture of community and kindness to others?

  1. Very appropriate Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, excellent questions! Don’t have any definitive answers, but certain leaders could encourage people to come together rather than encouraging them to hate others who don’t look or think the same way as they do. But whipping up strife is the key way tyrants obtain and stay in power.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margaret says:

    I must be part Italian as I detest queuing!
    So I was surprised at how soon I became addicted to watching ‘The Queue’! It had a calming influence on me and most evenings I would spend time observing it.
    It was fascinating watching the people’s faces as they filed past the coffin, remembering they’d had a tortuous, sleepless 12/13 hours of sauntering and standing around. Most said it was worth it. Some seemed really upset as they slowly walked past the Queen’s coffin; others in awe of the historic occasion; others just wanted to be part of it all; a few seemed non-plussed; some were linking in to their own bereavements.
    The number of people who endured it was flabbergasting. They even flew in from overseas to join it! Many said they’d made friends whilst queuing and that had kept them going when they were at their lowest ebb. Perhaps that’s it Jane – all those people there for the same objective – to walk past the Queen’s coffin – even if for different reasons. All helping one another to get through it.
    I read much ridicule about the queue and the hatred and vilification towards Harry and Meghan continues as do the diatribes in other quarters so it doesn’t look hopeful. But for those few days it was magic. Queen Elizabeth II had cast her spell. I know if it had continued for longer I wouldn’t have been able to resist joining.
    RIP Queen Elizabeth II 👑

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wynne Leon says:

    Beautiful and inspiring, Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post gives a glimmer of hope in a dark and troubled world. It gives us a sense of the humanity that exists among us when we share a common purpose. It provides a tiny peek into the life that awaits us in the future, when we reach the tipping point where light outshines the darkness and we turn the corner into a new and wonderful world. To quote a meme from, “It is not only the light we seek but the Light we already are that is shifting the balance of the world.” Amen to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dr. John Persico Jr. says:

    Beautiful thoughts Jane. A great question “So, the question I ask myself is: how do we bring out the best in our collective selves more often? It is such a rare occurrence these days.” I think you answered the question. Inspiring leadership dedicated to making life better for others and not herself or her family or her friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Roy McCarthy says:

    Indeed. My brother Terry queued for 12 hours, and he’s normal a cynic about these things. Peak Britishness was reached when they closed the Queue and people started a second queue for when the Queue reopened. Terry said exactly as you did, the common fellowship was amazing. (I hear that more than a few friendships were formed as the Queue shuffled forward.)

    The whole thing though was orchestrated brilliantly by the BBC (aka the Mourn Hub) who told everyone exactly how they should feel and what to do, how to mourn. The studio guests on funeral day were just too obsequious. Without the Beeb’s input, most of us would have been a little sad or melancholic but they drove everyone to grieving as if to do less was to insult the Queen.

    However I watched the coverage for a few hours yesterday (funeral day) and you could not help but be impressed by how everything was done. Elizabeth was a lovely lady who never put a foot wrong or said a cross word. RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Wow, your brother was actually in the Queue and his experience was the positive one that has been reported. That’s reassuring (and fun) to hear. Funny that you say that about the BBC; on this side of the pond the commentators NEVER SHUT UP and people switched from CBC and CNN to the BBC’s coverage for a more toned-down version! The processions and funerals were absolutely astounding in their attention to detail. The fact that she was so deserving of special recognition helped gloss over the over-the-top cost of all those details. I can’t imagine it will be the same for Charles.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Rose says:

    “May we all work at bringing out the best in ourselves as often as possible.” Wonderful words!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It really was something, wasn’t it? You’re so right about the amazing ability of people to come together in challenging times. The British have a lot of experience with this and they set a good example for the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. heimdalco says:

    What a lovely post. My plan was to write something very similar tomorrow – I’d set aside the day for that. Since you & I share many similarities there are some things we both recognized about & beyond the pomp & celebration … the number of people coming together, the feeling of shared love, the putting differences aside to join in the celebration of a special life. Those are, I believe, the overpowering messages that I hope the majority of people who shared the experience in person & through television came away with. I think we were blessed to witness that in our lifetime & to feel personally familiar with Queen Elizabeth & in awe of her as we grew up. Globally, I believe, she will be terribly missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, there was a Woodstock-like quality to that queue it seems. That impressed me too (and plaudits to David Beckham and Sharon Osborne, btw; both of whom could have gotten VIP passes and didn’t!). My own thoughts about it are that this was merely, as you put it at the top of your post, Jane, a singular and unique set of circumstances. I’m not sure we can have such a community of spirit elsewhere in the world, certainly the western world, at the moment. I sure would like to be wrong, though. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jean says:

    You are right, so rare millions of people expressing kindness, respect…together. I’m so glad the Brits celebrated the Platinum Jubilee with her, several months earlier the yr.

    Liked by 1 person

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