The death in Scotland of Queen Elizabeth II has set off a series of carefully staged protocols across the United Kingdom that will last for 10 days.
As the nation mourns its late sovereign, who died on Sept. 8, here’s what to expect from her Sept. 19 funeral at Westminster Abbey and the official proceedings leading up to it.
What type of funeral will the Queen receive?
Queen Elizabeth II’s obsequies will differ from those of her late husband, Prince Philip. He had a ceremonial royal funeral in 2021, one meant for the consort of the sovereign, the heir to the throne, or members of the Royal Family with a high military rank. The Queen Mother and Princess Diana of Wales had these types of funerals.
Queen Elizabeth II will have a state funeral, which is usually reserved for the sovereign, though exceptional individuals may also be given one if the reigning monarch and parliament both approve it. Parliament votes on how to fund such a funeral.
The last monarch to be given a state funeral was King George in 1952, while the last non-royal to have the honor was Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965.
Who arranges a state funeral?
The Earl Marshal, one of the Kingdom’s Great Officers of State, is in charge of arranging a state funeral, as well as the coronation of a new sovereign.
Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk, is the current Earl Marshal. The 65-year-old is Britain’s most senior peer.
King Charles III is expected to meet with the Earl Marshal to sign off on the funeral arrangements for his late mother.
When and where will the Queen’s funeral be held?
Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral will be held on Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey at 11 AM GMT, according to Buckingham Palace.
The abbey is the site of previous coronation ceremonies, including Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953. It can hold up to 2,000 attendees.
The funeral will conclude the official 10-day mourning period and King Charles III has confirmed that there will be a public holiday that day. The funeral will be televised and available for viewing online.
Union flags across the country will be flown at half-mast until the funeral, except for this past Saturday, when King Charles III formally acceded to the throne. On that day, flags were hoisted at full-staff.
Who will attend the funeral?
All Royal Family members are expected to be at the funeral, including Queen Elizabeth II’s children—King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward—as well as their partners and children, among them Prince William and Prince Harry.
A Who’s Who of the British aristocracy and political establishment will be among the mourners. Several foreign heads of state are also expected.
On Friday, President Biden said he will be in attendance. “I don’t know what the details are yet but I’ll be going,” Biden said to reporters during a visit to Ohio.
What happens in the days before the funeral?
Although the protocols are not public, the Guardian and Politico previously published details of the plans—codenamed “Operation London Bridge” (in the event that the Queen died in England) and “Operation Unicorn” (should the monarch pass away in Scotland, where she spent much of her time).
With the latter put into effect, her body was transported to Holyrood House, her residence in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Then, a procession carried her coffin to St. Giles Cathedral for a memorial service on Monday.
Next, her coffin will be flown to London on Tuesday evening. It will be taken to Buckingham Palace, before being escorted to the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday morning by a gun-carriage procession.
In a press briefing on Sept. 10, the Earl Marshal said the Queen will lie in state in the grand hall for five days. Other royals have also lain in state here, including the Queen’s parents—the Queen Mother and King George VI. Viewings will be allowed for 24 hours a day, in hopes of accommodating the expected half-a-million members of the British public wanting to pay their respects. The country will observe a minute of silence at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the day before the Queen’s funeral.
What happens on the day of the funeral?
At around 10:44 a.m., the Queen’s coffin will be carried in a procession to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service.
Following the state funeral, her coffin will be taken in procession to Wellington Arch, and then to Windsor, according to the Earl Marshal. Once there, it will head to St. George’s Chapel, where a committal service will be held.
She is expected to be buried in the chapel’s Royal Vault with other deceased British royals, beside her late husband, Prince Philip.
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