The state funeral for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will take place a week from Monday at Westminster Abbey, and she will lie in state in Westminster Hall from Wednesday, Buckingham Palace has announced.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch died peacefully Thursday at her Scottish country estate in Balmoral.
Earlier Saturday, King Charles III gave the order for a public holiday across the United Kingdom for the day of the funeral.
The Queen currently rests in the ballroom at Balmoral Castle, where estate staff can pay their last respects, a senior palace official said. Her oak coffin has been draped with the Royal Standard for Scotland, and a wreath of flowers is laid on top.
Sunday morning, her coffin will embark on a six-hour journey to Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.
On Monday, it will process to St Giles’s Cathedral for a service attended by the King and Queen Consort, and a congregation made up “from all areas of Scottish society,” the senior palace official said.
After the service, the coffin will rest there for 24 hours to allow the Scottish public to pay their respects. Charles and members of the royal family will take part in the guard – or vigil – Monday evening.
Princess Anne will accompany her mother’s body the following day as it is flown back to London, and placed on trestles in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace overnight, the official said.
Wednesday will see an extraordinary silent procession take the coffin on a gun carriage from Buckingham Palace over to Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, where the Queen will lie in state until the morning of the funeral.
In what is likely to be an incredibly poignant moment, members of the royal family will walk behind their beloved matriarch. During the procession, Big Ben will toll and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will fire minute guns at Hyde Park, the official added.
It will be placed on a raised platform – or catafalque – in the middle of the hall and guarded around the clock by officers from the Household Division, the King’s Bodyguard or the Royal Company of Archers.
In pictures: The UK mourns Queen Elizabeth II
On the morning of September 19, the coffin will travel in procession once more to Westminster Abbey for the funeral, the details of which will likely come in the following days. After the service, it will be taken again in procession to Wellington Arch, before traveling to Windsor where it will process up the Long Walk and to St. George’s Chapel for a committal service.
Arrangements for the funeral have been in the works for many years. While the Queen would have had a say in plans prior to her death, they can only be signed off by the sitting monarch. Charles, who was formally proclaimed King earlier Saturday, performed that duty with the Duke of Norfolk, who holds the hereditary role of Earl Marshal which is responsible for orchestrating state events.
Speaking on behalf of the many agencies involved in the funeral arrangements, the Earl Marshal said Saturday “we will carry out our duty over the coming days with the heaviest of hearts.”
He continued, “But also, with the firmest of resolve to ensure a fitting farewell to one of the defining figures of our times; a monarch whom we were truly privileged to have had as the Head of State of our country and the Realms, and Head of the wider Commonwealth.”
Westminster Abbey, founded in 960 AD by Benedictine monks, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in London. The historic church has been the setting for every coronation since 1066, and was where the then-Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947. But there hasn’t been a funeral of a monarch there since that of George II in 1760.
Heads of state and dignitaries from around the world are expected to be invited to the British capital to join members of the royal family to celebrate the Queen’s life and unwavering service to the nation and Commonwealth. While a guest list has not yet been announced, US President Joe Biden told reporters Friday he planned to attend the funeral.
Other familiar faces at the televised service will be some of the Queen’s 15 former prime ministers and senior lawmakers.