Viewing figures for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral have now been revealed by UK broadcasters, and they weren’t as high as many television experts predicted.
Estimations suggested the Queen’s funeral was expected to bring in more viewers than any other TV broadcast in global history, let alone in the UK.
It was thought one billion more people were going to tune in for Her Majesty’s state funeral than for that of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.
But it turns out the event was potentially watched by fewer people than the UEFA Euro 2020 final, which saw England lose on penalties against Italy – and far fewer than Diana’s funeral.
The new estimated total - which is around one million below the figure seen for the Euros final - takes into account those who tuned into the main channels, including BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV, Channel 4, and more.
Her Majesty set many TV records during her 70-year reign, including her coronation in 1953 which reached more than 27 million people in the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth II’s coronation was the first to ever be broadcast live on television as many more millions abroad tuned in.
Her state funeral, however, was expected to have had figures that would have been incomprehensible at the start of her reign.
The committal that followed, as the Queen was lowered into the Royal Vault, made further television history as it was the first time such a ceremony was broadcast.
The previous monarch’s committal, that of King George VI on 15 February 1952, was not broadcast, and so this was a first for those witnessing.
When was the Queen’s funeral?
Her late Majesty’s funeral started at around 11am on Monday 19 September 2022, and it was held at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen’s Committal service took place at 4pm in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. This was followed by a private burial, though that part was not televised.
2,000 people were in attendance for the state funeral, whereas 800 were there as the Queen was lowered into the Royal Vault, including King Charles III.
How many people in the UK watched Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral?
According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), the Queen’s funeral was watched by an average of 26.2 million people across all channels in the UK.
This figure doesn’t include online streaming, however, so the total may be higher overall. But in terms of those watching on actual television screens, Her Majesty’s state funeral ranks far lower than what was expected.
More figures - including online totals - will be revealed in dribs and drabs and they will be added to this article as and when they’re announced.
It still officially ranks in the all-time list for the most watched broadcasts in the UK. However, provisional figures show that it may not have been as popular to watch live on television as the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.
The top ten includes:
- World Cup Final: England v Germany, 1966 - 32.2m
- Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, 1997 - 32.1m
- Royal Family (documentary special), 1969 - 30.69m
- UEFA Euro Final: England v Italy, 2021 - 29.95m
- Apollo 13 Splashdown, 1970 - 28.6m
- Wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, 1981 - 28.4m
- Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, 1973 - 27.6m
- Muhammad Ali v Joe Fraiser II, 1970 - 27.5m
- Boris Johnson’s statement on Covid-19, 2020 - 27.1m
- State funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, 2022 - 26.2m
How many people around the world watched Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral?
No official total figures for global audiences have been released just yet, however, early indications from Statista suggested no fewer than 4.1 billion people across the globe were going to watch the Queen’s funeral on television.
This means it was likely to be viewed by more people than any other Royal event in history, including weddings, coronations and funerals of days gone by.
Having seen the lower-than-expected figures for the UK, however, it is now fair to say the originally projected global figure was probably a little too high.
If the 4.1 billion figure were to be confirmed, though, the Queen’s funeral will officially be named the most viewed broadcast in television history.
How to watch the Queen’s funeral on demand
Now the Queen’s funeral has been and gone, the whole event is available to watch on demand for those who weren’t able to tune in.
This includes the funeral itself which lasted around 55 minutes, the build-up to it, the procession from Westminster to Windsor, and the Committal service.
The Committal, which started at St George’s Chapel four hours after the end of the state funeral, lasted around 30 minutes.
There were also some astonishing shots of The Long Walk in Windsor beforehand as Her late Majesty passed through.
Now the proceedings are over, all of these moments, as well as the state funeral which took place earlier in the day, are available to watch on both BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.
The private burial service that took place after the Committal was not televised, nor is it available to watch on demand.