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 funeral 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.
© Cecil Beaton— Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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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.
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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?
The Queen’s state funeral is expected to be held in about 10 days’ time.
Buckingham Palace will confirm the date and the details, but it will be at London’s Westminster Abbey. The abbey is the site of previous coronation ceremonies, including Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953. It can hold up to 2,000 attendees.
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.
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A Who’s Who of the British aristocracy and political establishment will be among the mourners. Several foreign heads of state are also expected.
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).
Under the latter, her body will be transported to Holyrood House, her residence in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Then, a procession will carry her coffin to St. Giles Cathedral for a memorial service.
Next, her coffin will be brought to London by Royal Train or possibly by air. It will be taken to Buckingham Palace, before being escorted to the Palace of Westminster by a gun-carriage procession.
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When it arrives at Westminster Hall, lying in state will take place for a few days. Other royals have also lain in state here, including the Queen’s parents—the Queen Mother and King George VI. Viewings will reportedly be allowed for 23 hours a day, in hopes of accommodating the expected half-a-million members of the British public wanting to pay their respects.
Union flags across the country will be flown at half-mast until the funeral, except for the day when King Charles III formally accedes to the throne, which is expected to take place on Saturday. On that day, flags will be hoisted at full-staff.
What happens on the day of the funeral?
The Queen’s coffin will be carried in a procession to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service. The country will then observe two minutes of silence at midday.
A committal service, and another procession, will subsequently be held in Windsor. There, she will be buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel with other deceased British royals, beside her late husband, Prince Philip.
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