Royal fans have poured into the heart of London to experience the flag-lined roads, pomp-filled processions and, above all, brave an enormous line for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to bid adieu to Queen Elizabeth II, who died after an unprecedented seven decades on the throne.
And while they’re here, they’re packing hotels, restaurants and shops.
Visitors crowding into central London from as far away as the US and India are giving a boost to businesses at a time when the British economy is facing a cost-of-living crisis fueled by the highest inflation in four decades and predictions of a looming recession.
“This is the history, you know, this happens once in the lifetime,” said Kanakkantt Benedict, who was visiting from India with his wife and filed past the queen’s flag-draped coffin this week. “So, we became a part of it.”
The pomp and pageantry leading up to the funeral for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch underscored the royal family’s power as a global attraction, from an elaborate military procession for her crown-topped coffin drawing live viewers around the world to piles of flowers filling up Green Park near Buckingham Palace and gift shops hastily churning out souvenirs commemorating the queen’s life as people clamor for mementos.
Hundreds of thousands are expected to pay tribute to the queen in the four days that her body lies in state ahead of her state funeral on Monday, pushing up demand for hotel rooms in central London that in some cases have doubled in price.
Hundreds of world leaders, from US President Joe Biden to Japan's Emperor and Empress, plus their entourages need places to stay as they arrive for the queen's funeral.
So do police officers coming from around Britain to help with security.
Occupancy levels could reach an all-time high of 95%, according to London-based group-booking platform Hotelplanner.com.
The Queen’s coffin will lie in state at Westminster Hall until Monday, when it will be taken across the street to Westminster Abbey for the queen's funeral.