MORE people in the UK tuned in to watch the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy than switched on their TVs for the Queen’s funeral on Monday, figures suggest.

The official ratings for the historic royal event were released on Tuesday afternoon – revealing that not only was the footballing event a bigger draw in the UK, but Princess Diana’s televised funeral had higher viewing figures back in 1997.

According to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (Barb) - which is responsible for recording TV audiences - around 28.5m people tuned in to view the Queen’s funeral across the main channels of BBC One, BBC Two, ITV (or STV), Sky News and BBC News.

This compares to the 29.85m who watched Italy beat England on penalties last summer, and the 31m who watched as Princess Diana was laid to rest 25 years ago.

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The numbers for the Queen’s state funeral may not be conclusive, given that the event was broadcast across so many different television channels.

It had been predicted by industry experts that a global viewing figures record would be set by the Queen's passing, with some expecting the number of people watching to exceed four billion.  

Historian Dr Andrew Keil commented on the figures being lower than anticipated.

"Interesting comparison to audiences for the EURO2020 final," he noted. "Also means that only about less than half of the UK population tuned in [when there was hardly any alternative thing to do than watch the state funeral]."

SNP strategist Ross Colquhoun suggested that figures were a result of changes in media consumption. 

"I guess it shows how people have changed how they consume news, Diana's funeral was viewed by around 32.1 million," he pointed out.

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How is the figure calculated?

Barb, which is owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BSkyB and the IPA, works with TV broadcasters to deliver their ratings. For 30 years, it has been monitoring people’s television viewing behaviour.

Using a panel of around 5100 homes said to be representative of the UK’s make-up, Barb electronically monitors what those participants are watching and then.

That data is then added up and weighted to reflect the overall population of the country.

The National: People watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth on a big screen in Centenary Square, Birmingham: PAPeople watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth on a big screen in Centenary Square, Birmingham: PA (Image: PA)

"The most important event"

The final results may come as a surprise to senior UK politicians. Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, described the Queen’s funeral as “the most important event the world will ever see” over the weekend.

Hoyle’s comments, made in an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, drew criticism from republican groups.

“Most of the country are going to be doing other things and we need to stop pretending that this is the whole country mourning,” said Graham Smith, CEO of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic.

The Queen's passing also came at a time where support for the monarchy is at a record low, according to polling expert Sir John Curtice.

In 2021, the polling found that the number of UK adults saying the monarchy was “not at all important/abolish” had reached record highs of 25%.