A final goodbye: Britain prepares to lay its beloved Queen to rest today
The state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey, which has space for around 2,000 people, and around 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries and their partners are expected
LONDON: Britain was gearing for the momentous state funeral on Monday of Queen Elizabeth II as King Charles III prepared to host world leaders and as mourners queued for the final hours left to view her coffin on Sunday.
The first members of the public were already camping out in advance to catch a glimpse of Monday’s grand farewell at Westminster Abbey — declared a a public holiday — which is expected to bring London to a standstill and be watched by billions of viewers worldwide.
Westminster Abbey has space for around 2,000 people, and around 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries and their partners are expected, according to BBC and Sky News reports.
Around 500 royals, heads of state and heads of government from around the globe have been invited for first state funeral for six decades. Also attending Britain’s first state funeral for six decades will be the queen’s family members, courtiers, public figures and UK politicians.
World leaders and royals
Among global leaders, US President Joe Biden flew in late on Saturday with his wife Jill Biden Biden said that Charles’s mother “defined an era” after she reigned for a record-breaking 70 years. French President Emmanuel Macron will also attend to show the “unbreakable” bond with Britain and pay respects to the “eternal queen”.
Leaders Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil will also come. China will send its vice-president, Wang Qishan. Despite Britain’s Brexit from the European Union, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council head Charles Michel will go as well. Other heads of state at the funeral will include presidents Sergio Mattarella of Italy, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Isaac Herzog of Israel and Yoon Suk-yeol of Korea.
Numerous leaders will come from countries that still counted Elizabeth II as their monarch and from members of the 56-nation Commonwealth. They include Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Australian PM Anthony Albanese and New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. Commonwealth leaders attending include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama. “The thing that I will take away from this period is just the beauty of the public’s response, the kindness that you see from members of the public, the patience, the camaraderie, that has been, for me, the most moving tribute of all, has been the public response of the British people,” Ardern said.
How the day will unfold
After the queen’s lying in state at Westminster Hall will end at 6.30am on Monday, shortly after 10.35am a bearer party will lift the coffin from the catafalque and carry it to the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. The State Gun Carriage is a field gun carriage that has previously been used for the funerals of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, Winston Churchill, and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
The carriage will pass by Parliament Square where members of the navy, army and air force will form a Guard of Honour. The coffin will be followed by King Charles and members of the royal family. The procession will arrive at the West Gate of Westminster Abbey at 10.52am. Heads of state and overseas government representatives, including foreign royal families, governors-general and PMs of the realm will travel together to the Abbey.
The state funeral will begin at 11am.It will be followed by a two-minute silence in the Abbey and throughout the UK. Planes will avoid flying over central London.
The national anthem will bring the state funeral service to an end around 12pm. The coffin will then be put back to the State Gun Carriage and the procession will move to Wellington Arch where it will arrive at 1pm, where the coffin will be placed in the hearse to travel to Windsor.
At 3.10pm, a procession in Windsor will begin which will be joined by the king and other members of the royal family. The procession will halt at the bottom of the West Steps of St. George’s Chapel. The committal service will begin at 4pm.
Prior to the final hymn, the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre will be removed from the coffin and placed on the Altar. The king will place The Queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin. As the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, the Dean of Windsor will say a Psalm and the commendation before Garter King of Arms will pronounce the styles and titles of the queen. The Archbishop of Canterbury will pronounce the blessing, followed by the singing of “God Save The King”.
At 7.30pm, a private burial service will be attended by the family. The queen will be buried with her husband, Prince Philip, at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
Long public queues
On Sunday, a tide of people continued to stream into Parliament’s Westminster Hall, where the queen’s coffin is lying in state. The number of mourners has grown steadily since the public was first admitted on Wednesday, with a queue that stretches for at eight km along the river Thames and into Southwark Park in the city’s southeast.
On Sunday evening, people across the UK paused Sunday evening for a nationwide minute of silence to remember the queen, who died September 8 at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne.