Line to Pay Respect to Queen Elizabeth Temporarily Closed After Reaching Capacity

·4 min read

British government officials on Friday morning temporarily closed the back of the line for those waiting to see Queen Elizabeth II lie in state at Westminster Hall, preventing new people wishing to pay their respects from joining the ongoing queue.

Wait times for visitors had reportedly stretched to 14 hours, NBC News reported, with the line measuring at nearly 5 miles.

Steady updates on the queue have been provided on Twitter by the United Kingdom Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The account said on Friday morning, just before 10 a.m. local time, that entry to the line would be paused "for at least 6 hours" after Southwark Park "reached capacity."

"We are sorry for any inconvenience," a tweet from the agency read. "Please do not attempt to join the queue until it re-opens. Check back for further updates."

RELATED: What It's Like to View Queen Elizabeth Lying in State, as Seen by a PEOPLE Reporter

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The Queen died on Sept. 8 at the age of 96.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners have since come in coach loads, by train and by car from all four corners to to view Her Majesty lying in state.

Pallbearers from The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II into Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster
Pallbearers from The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II into Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster

BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth's coffin

She'll remain in Westminster Hall, where public visitors can view her coffin 24/7 until the early hours of Monday morning, when state funeral festivities will begin.

For more on Queen Elizabeth, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

PEOPLE spoke to one who already walked through the line: Isabella Heffernan, a 19-year-old American student studying bio-ethics at Stanford University.

Catherine, Princess of Wales and Sophie, Countess of Wessex watch the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown, arriving at Westminster Hall on September 14, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lay in state until the early morning of her funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.
Catherine, Princess of Wales and Sophie, Countess of Wessex watch the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown, arriving at Westminster Hall on September 14, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lay in state until the early morning of her funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.

Gregorio Borgia - WPA Pool/Getty

RELATED: American Student Shares Why She Waited 5 Hours to See Queen Lying in State: 'It's a Moment in History'

Heffernan waited five hours in line to file past the late monarch's coffin.

"I personally don't have a connection to the Queen, but I thought it's a moment in history," Heffernan told PEOPLE. "She reigned for 70 years, and it's something you're never going to get again."

She added, "It's something you will tell your kids and your grandkids about, and it's a moment in the history books — and to me, that was the important thing."

Heffernan, a Rhode Island native, was visiting family in Dublin, Ireland when Queen Elizabeth died last week at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

"I immediately bought a ticket to come here," she said about hearing the news.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown and pulled by a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown and pulled by a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery

MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth's coffin

RELATED: King Charles and Queen Camilla Visit Wales to Complete U.K. Tour Following Queen Elizabeth's Death

The student said that with her family from Northern Ireland, "political tensions with England are not easy." When she called her father to tell him she was heading to London, he "was less than happy" but understood.

"I'm really into history, and when you have the opportunity to experience a historical moment, it's so important to do so," Heffernan added.

Heffernan described the atmosphere inside Westminster Hall as "sorrowful but grateful."

"You could tell this meant so much to people," she explained. "When people go on tours to the U.S. Capitol, it's more laid back. But here, it was like their own grandmother had died. That's the way it felt, which was actually shocking but also amazing and interesting to see."

She said, "I just can't get over how much people seem to connect with her because I've met a couple of political figures. I've met Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and state senators when I was younger, and you didn't have that deep connection. You'd hear about a funeral and would feel kind of sad. But the Queen has given her life to service, and her people are so grateful, which to me was a really surprising thing to see."