This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield have said they would “never jump a queue” after they went to see the Queen lying in state.
Addressing criticism on social media that they had skipped the queue that stretched miles across London, the This Morning co-presenters said their visit was “strictly for reporting”. ITV said they had attended to film a segment for Tuesday’s show.
Images emerged on Friday of the presenters inside Westminster Hall, but critics said it was unfair that they had not queued along with nearly quarter of a million others. Other media and MPs were able to bypass the queue and access Westminster Hall during the four days the Queen lay in state.
When This Morning returned to ITV after the state funeral on Monday, the pair acknowledged the criticism but said they had respected the rules set for the media.
During a special episode reflecting on the days since the Queen’s death, Willoughby said in a voiceover: “Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists we were given official permission to access the hall. It was strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who have not been able to visit Westminster in person.”
Willoughby added that unlike those paying their respects who walked along a carpeted area and were given time to pause, the pair were escorted to a platform at the back.
“None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one filed past the Queen. We of course respected those rules,” she said.
“However, we realise that it may have looked like something else, and therefore totally understand the reaction. Please know that we would never jump a queue.”
This Morning previously addressed the visit in a statement posted on Instagram on Saturday, saying: “We asked Phillip and Holly to be part of a film for this Tuesday’s programme. They did not jump the queue, have VIP access or file past the Queen lying in state – but instead were there in a professional capacity as part of the world’s media to report on the event.”
Schofield did not comment on the backlash but said observing the Queen’s lying in state was one of the “most profound moments” in his life.
A parliamentary spokesperson confirmed that media accreditation was given to journalists who requested access to Westminster Hall “for the purpose of reporting on the event for the millions of people in the UK and globally who haven’t been able to visit Westminster in person”.