On September 16, the day the queue to see Queen Elizabeth II lying in state in Westminster Hall first reached its 16-km capacity and had to be closed to new entrants, one social media commentator tweeted that it was “our 21st-century pilgrimage”.
“We were coming slowly down the Mall and, because you’re with thousands of others all making the same journey, it almost felt like a pilgrimage,” an IT engineer told the Independent. Even the Bishop of Southwark agreed, which is remarkable given that, until relatively recently, pilgrimage in Protestant Britain was considered a Catholic aberration.
I have spent 20 years researching contemporary and secular pilgrimage phenomena and participating in many pilgrimages. Three aspects of the queue chime with my research: the sense of camaraderie felt by participants, the valorisation of physical hardship, and the idea that the journey is just as important as the destination.
People at the back of the line — now famously known as the Queue — to pay their respects to the queen will likely be waiting 24 hours, British authorities said Friday. Among those in line was soccer star…