Queuing for the Queen – Swéta Rana

Published By: Aria & Aries
Pages: 288
Released On: 11/05/2023 (Kindle), 06/07/2023 (Paperback)

One queue. 250,000 people. Twenty-four life-changing hours.

A young boy wearing a cereal box crown, impatiently dragging his mother behind him.

A friendly man in a khaki raincoat, talking about his beloved Leeds United to anyone who will listen.

An elderly woman who has lived her life alongside the Queen, and is just hoping she’ll make it to the end of the queue to say goodbye.

And among them, a British Indian mother and daughter, driven apart by their differences, embarking on a pilgrimage which neither of them yet know will change their lives forever.

Full of secrets and surprises, this uplifting novel celebrates not only the remarkable woman who defined an era and a country, but also the diverse and unique people she served for so long.


Thanks to NetGalley and Aria & Aries for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

When I first saw this, I was a little concerned about how respectful it would be. I’m a huge royal family fan, and like most, admired the late Queen, and I supposed I was worried that by using her death and funeral for entertainment would be insensitive. But it didn’t feel like that. It’s clear that Swéta has some love for the Royals, or at least the Queen, to be able to write with so much passion.

I do have some questions thought. From what I know about the publishing industry, the time between signing with a publisher and it coming out can be as long as 1-2 years. Now, the Queen died in September 2022, which, at time of writing this review, was 7 months ago. So, my question is this: did Swéta write this prior to the event and just got lucky that it matched? Did she write a similar story prior to the event and then make changes after the Queen died? Or did she write it in just a few months and it was fast tracked through to be timely?

Whilst it is a fiction book, it does bring back memories of that sad time. I didn’t go to see her in state myself, but I followed it online, watched it on the news, and diligently sat in silence when her children and grandchildren stood vigil. It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 months. Sometimes it feels like it was years ago, and sometimes just yesterday. It was a very sad, but not unexpected, time in British history and I became even more of a royalist in those few weeks. There was this warmth and sense of community about it all. Where else in the world would strangers voluntarily queue for 24 hours to stand for 30 seconds in front of a coffin to say goodbye to someone they didn’t know? It seemed jolly, even in the circumstances. And I think this book showed that within the first few chapters. This sense of strangers becoming friends.

I liked that the main protagonist has an Indian background with an Indian-born mother. The chapters alternate between the queue in London, and the protagonist’s mother’s childhood in India, and it was interesting to read about what the Queen meant to people who are often seen as “outsiders”. Those who weren’t necessarily born in the UK and therefore didn’t necessarily see the royals as that important. It’s proof that she wasn’t just the Queen of the UK, but was admired around the world.

I liked that the in-between chapters that are set in the past are written backwards. So they start at around 60 years ago when the mother was a child, and then end just a short time before the queue. This gives more context to the present scenes and more understanding as to the characters’ relationship and emotions.

It is a very easy book to read. I read it in a matter of hours. It flows well, has great description, and just rolls off the page.

What I will say, is don’t go in expecting a really full-on action-packed story. Not much actually happens. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I read this just after I’d finished an intense war story, and this gave me what I wanted: happiness, joyfulness, hopefulness, and togetherness. It’s a gentle story about the people in the queue. It’s more about conversation and memory and emotion than it is about action. It is the epitome of a feel-good book.

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