The Queen’s funeral: what happens today

Culmination of ten days of national mourning will see more than 2,000 people fill Westminster Abbey

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Leon Neal/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest this afternoon during a day of mourning and ceremony.

After her lying in state came to an end this morning, Her Majesty’s coffin will be taken to Westminster Abbey for a state funeral in front of a congregation of thousands and watched by “billions of people around the world”, reported Politico.

The funeral will be conducted by Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, and the sermon will be given by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

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There will be a selection of readings and prayers and three hymns: The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended; The Lord’s My Shepherd; and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.

As the end of the ceremony nears, at about 11.55am, the Last Post will sound, with a two-minute silence observed in the Abbey and throughout the UK. The national anthem will be played and there will be a lament at the close of service at around midday.

Then there will be a procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, where the coffin will be transferred to a hearse, before being driven from London to Windsor.

Public viewing areas in London and Windsor “are expected to reach capacity early this morning”, reported The Times. Mourners have been “camping on the Mall and outside Westminster Abbey over the weekend to secure a front row place for the funeral and procession”, added the paper.

What is the order of today’s events?

The Queen’s state funeral will begin at 11am today and will be widely televised across the UK and the world. One official involved in the planning process told the BBC that it was like “arranging 100 state visits all in one go”, while the broadcaster estimated that it will be one of the biggest ceremonial events to be staged in the UK since the Second World War.

The 18th Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England, who is responsible for organising the Queen’s funeral, said that the service at Westminster Abbey would resonate with people of all faiths. He told The Times it will “unite people across the globe”.

In 2017, The Guardian noted that “the Queen will be the first British monarch to have her funeral in the Abbey since 1760”, adding that the service will be attended by around “2,000 guests”, while “television cameras, in hides made of painted bricks, will search for the images that we will remember”. The culmination of ten days of national mourning “will bring together more than 2,000 people in the abbey, from President Biden to charity representatives and holders of either the Victoria or George Cross,” said The Times.

In further documents obtained by Politico, Westminster Abbey is expected to be “so packed” for the event that only the heads of state and their spouses of each country will be able to attend the funeral.

The heads of state attending the Queen’s funeral have also been asked to travel to the UK on commercial flights, as opposed to using private jets, and “banned from using helicopters to get around”, said the political news site. They will also be unable to use their own state cars to attend the funeral, and rather will be “bussed in en masse from a site in west London”. But asked about the reports last week, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Liz Truss stressed the “arrangements for different leaders will vary”, and said the documents in question were simply for guidance.

Where is the Queen’s resting place?

Following the funeral in Westminster, there will be a “committal service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and the queen will be buried in the castle’s King George VI Memorial Chapel”, alongside her father, her mother, and her sister’s ashes, according to Politico. The coffin of her late husband Prince Philip, who died last year, will also be moved from the Royal Vault in St George’s Chapel to be interred with the Queen, as per their wishes.

St George’s Chapel officially became the chosen burial place for the Royal Family in the 19th century, and contains several separate burial places, including the Royal Vault.

Although Westminster Abbey was for centuries the burial site for kings and queens, St George’s Chapel’s “chequered floor tiles hide half a millennium of royal burials”, said The Times, including those of Henry VIII and nine other English and British kings, dating back to the interment of Edward IV in 1483.

The part of the chapel the Queen will be buried in – the King George VI Memorial Chapel – was constructed in 1969.

With millions expected to travel to London to pay their respects to the Queen, “the Rail Delivery Group has said it would not be possible to view both the funeral in London and then travel to Windsor where Her Majesty will be laid to rest”, reported the BBC.

The advice of the rail operators is to choose to view one or the other, and ensure that plenty of time is left to get there if visitors wish to line the streets in London or Windsor.

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