The state funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II was watched by an estimated peak audience of around 28 million viewers in the United Kingdom, making it one of the largest ever television events in the country. The BBC says that 32.5 million viewers in the United Kingdom watched at least three minutes of its coverage, which is approaching half the country.
More than 50 channels in the United Kingdom broadcast the funeral service, including most BBC channels, all ITV and many Sky channels. The day was declared a national holiday, so many people were at home watching.
Across all channels an average of 26.2 million viewers watched the service between 11:00 and 12:00, with 18.5 million of them watching on the BBC. The estimated audience reach over that time was 29.2 million viewers, with a share of 95% of those viewing television at the time.
The peak audience came at after the service at 12:25, as the coffin was carried through the streets from Westminster Abbey.
Around 20 million people watched on BBC One at the time, with 5.3 million watching on ITV.
Most commercial channels did not air adverts on the day as a mark of respect, foregoing any revenue.
The overnight numbers from BARB do not include viewing online or out of home.
The figures place the royal funeral among the most viewed events in the country.
The funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 was watched by 32.10 million viewers in the United Kingdom.
It is estimated that a similar number watched England win the World Cup in 1966, but that was when there were far fewer televisions and before the modern system of audience measurement was in place.
27.10 million people watched the prime minister broadcast to the nation on 10 May 2020 across a number of channels, when Boris Johnson announced the easing of the first coronavirus lockdown, viewed by 14.61 million on BBC One.
The opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012 attracted around 24.5 million viewers.
The coronation of the Queen in 1953, the first to be televised, is estimated to have been viewed by over 27 million people in the United Kingdom.
The funeral of the Queen was watched by 11.4 million people in the United States, which is significantly fewer than the 33.2 million that watched the funeral of Princess Diana, or the weddings of Prince Harry or Prince William, which were respectively watched by 29.2 million and 22.7 million in the United States.
A widely reported figure that the funeral was seen by 4 billion people around the world is probably wide of the mark, although the event did attract significant global television coverage.
The BBC received considerable acclaim for its coverage, which was an extraordinary technical achievement and perfectly pitched. It was an event that the BBC could not afford to get wrong.
Even the new Secretary of State responsible for media, Michelle Donelan, who is a sceptic of the television licence fee praised the BBC for “a tremendous job”.
As it celebrates its centenary year, the BBC did what it does best, in bringing a nation together in a way that no other organisation can match. Its sounds and images were relayed around the world. Although other broadcasters also provided admirable coverage, it is at times like this that many people turn to the BBC.