On January 27, 1965, 4,000 people per hour filed past as Winston Churchill lay in state in Westminster Hall. His coffin draped in the Union Jack lay in the middle of the hall atop a seven foot high catafalque. Churchill’s insignia as a Knight of the Garter had been placed on a black silk cushion on the coffin. A guard of honour drawn from officers of the three services maintained a constant vigil. Four of the officers stood motionless with heads bowed at the four corners of the platform, while the fifth officer stood at the alcove in the wall nearby. The guards were silently changed in slow time at 20 minute intervals. At 9 a.m Prime Minister Wilson was the first to walk past the catafalque. He was followed, over the next two hours, by 3,000 politicians and diplomats. At 11 a.m. the public were admitted. From 9:20 to 9:40 that morning, the four current British Chiefs of Staff, Lord Mountbatten, Admiral Sir David Luce, General Sir Richard Hull, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Elworthy, formed the guard of honour at the catafalque. During the day the queue outside the St. Stephen’s entrance stretched, at times, over the Lambeth Bridge to St. Thomas’s Hospital on the south bank. That night, largely unnoticed by the crowd, Lady Churchill and her daughter Mary stood for a quarter of an hour in the hall. Shortly before 10 p.m., Harold Wilson returned with his wife, son, and members of his 10 Downing Street staff to join the crowd that was slowly filing past. At midnight officers of the Royal Air Force took over responsibility for the guard of honour from the Royal Marines. By 1 a.m. on January 28, 1965, 61,003 people had walked past. At two o’clock that morning the queue was still growing and stretched over Lambeth Bridge and back to Westminster bridge. Police were informing people joining the end of the line that they had a five hour wait ahead of them.

Elsewhere, on the morning of January 27, 1965 the United Nations General Assembly in New York devoted three hours to tributes to Churchill by representatives of 27 nations. It was also announced that President Lyndon Johnson, after his recent illness, would not be attending the funeral. That night the Grand Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk announced the names of the 12 pall bearers for the state funeral. They were Field Marshal Alexander, Clement Attlee, Anthony Eden, Lord Bridges, Lord Ismay, Lord Normanbrook, Harold Macmillan, Lord Mountbatten, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Portal, Field Marshal Slim, Field Marshal Templer, and Robert Menzies.