Queen’s funeral draws 26 million viewers in the UK

CNN Business

More than 26 million people tuned in to watch the Queen’s funeral in the United Kingdom on Monday, the first to be televised for a British monarch.

An average of 26.2 million people watched the hour of the Queen’s funeral service in Westminster Abbey on TV screens, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB).

It makes it one of the biggest moments in British TV history, although it fell short of the record 32.3 million people who tuned in to see England win the World Cup final in 1966, which garnered the biggest ever audience, according to the BBC.

BARB data for viewers watching on personal computers, smartphones and tablets will be published early next week.

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, nearly 70 years ago, has been described by the BBC as the first mass television event in the United Kingdom, attracting a bigger audience than radio for the first time.

More than 20 million people watched the coronation in 1953, according to the BBC, with many gathered around TV sets in pubs and neighbors’ homes. Cameras were installed in Westminster Abbey for the first time to cover the event.

Monday’s funeral was the first to be televised for a British monarch. The funeral procession of King George VI, her father, was broadcast in 1952, but not the funeral itself.

A lot has happened since then. The UK population — and the choice of devices and platforms on which people can watch TV — has increased dramatically.

Still, in 1966, around 59% of the UK population watched England beat West Germany in the World Cup final. Today’s viewing figures for people watching the Queen’s funeral on TV sets alone represent a similar proportion, at 55%.

— David Zurawik and Arnaud Siad contributed reporting.

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