Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral: What Will Happen and When?
People around the globe will be watching the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II when royals, led by King Charles III, and world leaders say farewell to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in London on Monday.
U.K. public broadcaster BBC, along with such other British networks from ITV and Channel 4 to Channel 5 and Sky, have torn up their schedules in favor of ongoing coverage since the queen died on Sept. 8 at the age of 96, leading many in Hollywood to pay tribute. The networks will also beam Monday’s emotional events into homes, as will channels in many other countries.
Media from multiple countries have descended on the capital to broadcast coverage of all the pomp and circumstance, while the city itself is expected to see crowds gathering along The Mall, the big road in central London that runs from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, to get a glimpse of a planned procession.
Big screens are expected to be set up in various parts of the U.K., including in London parks, to screen coverage of the day’s events, according to the BBC.
Like other businesses, many cinema chains in the U.K. will shut on Monday, which is a bank holiday due to the funeral. But some, including exhibitors Vue, Curzon and Arc, will open to live stream it for free. Concessions, such as popcorn, hot dogs and sweets, will not be sold, though.
Here is a closer look at various aspects of Monday’s proceedings.
What happens before the funeral?
Monday will start with the end of the queen’s lying-in-state in a closed coffin at Westminster Hall in London, which has allowed people to say their farewells. That period will finish at 6:30 a.m local time on Monday (1:30 a.m. ET, 10:30 p.m. PT Sunday).
The monarch’s coffin will then leave Westminster Hall at 10:44 a.m. local time to head to the funeral location on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy, which will be drawn by 142 sailors.
Members of the royal family, led by King Charles III and his sons Prince William and Prince Harry, will follow it in a procession set to arrive at 10:52 a.m. local time at London’s Westminster Abbey, the church where Britain’s kings and queens are crowned and where Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip.
Funeral service details
The state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II will start at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET, 3 a.m. PT). In 2002, the Queen Mother’s funeral also happened there. However, the last monarch’s funeral service to take place there was that of King George II in 1760.
Buckingham Palace has detailed that the service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle. It will include readings from scripture by new British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the Commonwealth. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will give the sermon and commendation, or final farewell.
At the end of the funeral service, around 11:55 a.m. local time, the Last Post — a bugle call or short tune that usually announces events on a military installation — will be played, followed by a two-minute national silence.
Then, the British national anthem and a lament played by royal bag piper Paul Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will bring the service to a close around noon London time (7 a.m. EST, 4 a.m. PST). Burns “woke Queen Elizabeth II on her final morning, playing below her window at Balmoral (Castle) as he had done every day,” according to The Telegraph.
Foreign dignitaries expected to attend
The funeral service will not only be for the British royal family. Heads of state from across the world and royals from various countries have started flying into London for the queen’s state funeral, with senior U.K. politicians, including new prime minister Liz Truss, and ex-prime ministers also set to attend it.
Among the international dignitaries will be U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Among the foreign royals expected to be seen in London for the ceremony are Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark along with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco, as well as Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan.
All in all, up to 500 dignitaries have been sent invitations, including representatives from every country with which the U.K. has diplomatic relations, except for Russia, Belarus and Myanmar, according to media reports.
Britain’s Foreign Office is organizing the arrivals, with officials saying the funeral planning was “the equivalent of telescoping hundreds of state visits into the space of two days,” The Guardian reported.
What happens after the funeral?
After the funeral, a walking procession, starting at around 12:15 p.m. local time, will bring the queen’s coffin to Wellington Arch at London’s Hyde Park Corner where it will be moved into a hearse.
From there, it will be taken to Windsor, with an expected arrival time of 3:06 pm local time (10:06 a.m. ET, 7:06 a.m. PT). Four minutes later, a procession is scheduled to start to take the coffin along the Long Walk to the queen’s final resting place in St. George’s Chapel, where Prince Philip’s memorial service was held and Prince Harry and Meghan were married, at Windsor Castle. The queen’s parents, sister Princess Margaret and Prince Philip are also buried there.
Next, there will be a televised service at 4 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET, 8 a.m. PT) at the chapel, attended by 800 people, according to media reports. The Dean of Windsor David Conner will conduct it.
The service will include traditions symbolizing the end of a monarch’s reign. For example, the Crown Jewels (the Imperial State Crown, the orb and the scepter) will be removed from the queen’s coffin by Crown Jeweller Mark Appleby, symbolically separating the monarch from her crown for the final time. The Dean will the place them on the altar.
At the end of the service, the Lord Chamberlain — the most senior officer of the royal household — will break his white staff, or wand, of office over the coffin, signifying the end of his service to the queen. Adding intrigue to that moment is the fact that the Lord Chamberlain is Andrew Parker, former head of MI5, Britain’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency. After the breaking of the staff, the coffin will be lowered into the royal vault.
The queen will then be interred during a private service at the chapel starting at 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. PT).