Queen’s funeral service seen by average of 26.2 million viewers in UK

The coffin of the Queen is carried by the bearer party into Westminster Abbey (Gareth Cattermole/PA) (PA Wire)
The coffin of the Queen is carried by the bearer party into Westminster Abbey (Gareth Cattermole/PA) (PA Wire)

The Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey on Monday was watched by more than 26 million viewers in the UK, one of the country’s biggest ever TV audiences, provisional figures show.

The service was broadcast simultaneously on a range of channels between 11am and just after midday, including BBC One and Two, ITV and Sky News.

An average of 26.2 million people watched across all channels, according to overnight ratings released by the research organisation Barb.

The figure is not quite as high as the official ratings for the funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.

This was seen by an average of 32.1 million viewers, including 19.3 million on BBC One and 11.7 million on ITV, and remains the highest audience for a television broadcast since comparable figures began in August 1981.

It is also lower than the combined audience of 28.2 million people who watched the televised address by former prime minister Boris Johnson in March 2020, during which he announced the first Covid-19 lockdown.

But it is large enough to rank as one of the biggest TV audiences of modern times.

The ratings are higher than those for the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which had 24.2 million and 24.5 million viewers respectively on BBC One, and the final of the Euro 2020 football championship in July 2021, which attracted a combined total of 22.5 million on BBC One and ITV.

The figure of 26.2 million is a provisional measure of the television audience and does not include those who watched the funeral service on other devices.

Official ratings for the funeral will be published by Barb next week and will include data for people who viewed the service on tablets, PCs and smartphones.

Sky’s sports channels were among the many other TV channels which switched from their typical coverage to also broadcast the historic moment of the late monarch’s funeral.

A number of channels continued to broadcast alternative content during the funeral with Channel 4 airing the Oscar-nominated 1953 technicolour documentary of the Queen’s coronation, titled A Queen Is Crowned, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier instead.

While Channel 5 showed 2017’s The Emoji Movie starring James Corden, Sir Patrick Stewart and Anna Faris.