21 SEP 2022

The Queen's funeral was watched by 28 million viewers in the UK

A peak audience of around 28 million viewers watched the Queen's funeral in the UK on Monday, making it one of the country's biggest ever TV events.

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A peak audience of around 28 million viewers watched the Queen's funeral in the UK on Monday, making it one of the country's biggest ever TV events. More than 50 UK channels broadcast the service, as the nation paused to pay a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.

The overall audience peaked at 12:25 BST, as her coffin was carried through the streets from Westminster Abbey. Around 20 million people watched on BBC One at that time, while ITV's audience numbers peaked at 5.3 million. The BBC says 32.5 million viewers watched at least three minutes of its coverage.

The overnight figures from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) do not include all viewers watching through streaming apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, or those who saw it on big screens outdoors or in cinemas, churches or pubs.

In comparison, Princess Diana's funeral in 1997 had more than 32 million UK viewers. A similar number are thought to have watched England's World Cup victory in 1966, although that occurred before the modern TV ratings system began. Meanwhile, almost 27.7 million watched Boris Johnson's Prime Ministerial statement on May 10, 2020, when he set out a plan to ease the first Covid lockdown. The London 2012 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies each attracted almost 24.5 million viewers.

Monday's royal funeral was shown live across most BBC channels - with a signed version on BBC Two - and all ITV and Sky stations. Children's channels CBBC and CBeebies stuck with their usual programmes, while Channel 5 broadcast the “Emoji Movie” and “Stuart Little” - drawing both criticism and praise from parents online. Channel 4 chose to broadcast the Queen's coronation from 1953 and other royal documentaries. At the same time, most commercial channels did not air adverts on the day, meaning the increased viewing did not result in a financial benefit.