Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral: What to expect

Dubbed ‘Operation London Bridge’, the arrangements for Britain’s longest-serving monarch were carefully prepared over years by the many agencies involved, with the Queen herself signing off on every detail before her death. However, the details were kept under wraps until the incumbent ruler, King Charles III, gave it his final stamp of approval.

After the Queen’s death, her oak coffin – draped with the Royal Standard for Scotland and a wreath of flowers – sat in the ballroom at Balmoral, where estate staff were lucky enough to give her a final return. tribute. On Sunday morning, six of his game wardens carried the coffin to a waiting hearse.

At 10 a.m. (5 a.m. ET), the coffin of the beloved monarch began its journey to the nation’s capital. However, he will not go there directly. It will first make a six-hour journey to Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the British monarch’s official residence in Scotland. The journey by road usually takes about three hours, however, it will be driven slowly to allow people to witness the hearse along the route and lower their heads as they pass.

An honor guard made up of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will greet the hearse arriving in Edinburgh with a royal salute before it is transferred to the throne room by a group of military pallbearers.

Meanwhile, back in London, the King will meet the Commonwealth Secretary General before welcoming High Commissioners from the realms of which he is now Head of State in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace.

On Monday morning, the King will start the day with a trip to Westminster Hall where both Houses of Parliament will express their condolences. He and his wife Camilla then fly to Edinburgh, where they arrive at 12:45 p.m. (7:45 a.m. ET), where they will head directly to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

At 2:35 p.m. (9:35 a.m. ET), the Queen’s coffin will proceed to St. Giles Cathedral for a service of prayer and reflection attended by the King and Queen Consort and members of the Royal Family, as well as ‘a congregation made up of ‘all sectors of Scottish society’, according to a senior palace official. Afterwards, the coffin will rest there for 24 hours for the Scottish public to view, in a tradition known as lying in state.

After the service, the King will return to Holyrood where he will have an audience with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, followed by a meeting with the Speaker of the Scottish Parliament. Charles, accompanied by the Queen Consort, will later travel to the Scottish Parliament to receive a motion of condolence.

That evening, at 7:20 p.m. (2:20 p.m. ET), the King and members of the Royal Family will stand their own guard – or vigil – of the Queen’s coffin.

On Tuesday, the King and Camilla will take a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland. The couple will visit Hillsborough Castle and see an exhibition about the Queen’s long association with Northern Ireland. The King will then meet the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as well as other party leaders, and receive a message of condolence led by the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Back in Scotland, the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, will prepare to accompany her mother’s body on her return to London. At 5 p.m. (12 p.m. ET), the coffin will travel 8.2 miles (13.2 kilometers) by hearse to Edinburgh Airport, where it will depart for RAF Northolt.

A state hearse will bring the monarch’s remains to Buckingham Palace, where the king, queen consort, and other members of the Windsor clan will await the coffin’s arrival around 8 p.m. (3 p.m. ET). The Dean of Chapels Royal will lead prayers and a group of pallbearers found by the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards will place the coffin on trestles in the center of the Bow Room to rest overnight.

On Wednesday, an extraordinary silent procession will take the coffin on a gun carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, where the Queen will lie in state until the morning of the funeral.

For this trip, the casket will be adorned with the Imperial State Crown and a wreath of flowers. The processional route will leave at 2:22 p.m. (9:22 a.m. ET) along the Mall, through Horse Guards Parade, past Downing Street towards Westminster.

In what is likely to be a poignant moment, members of the royal family will walk behind their beloved matriarch. They will be attended by senior staff from the Royal Households as well as close staff and members of the Household Division. As crowds watch the procession – which will last around 40 minutes – Big Ben will be blown and fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park with careful gunfire echoing throughout the capital.

The Queen’s coffin will be placed on a raised platform – or catafalque – in the middle of the hall and guarded 24 hours a day by officers from the Household Division, the King’s Bodyguards or the Royal Company of Archers .

Upon his arrival at Westminster Hall, a short service will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, after which the hall will be open to the public to pay his respects.

The funeral procession of the Queen's father, King George VI at Marble Arch in London on February 16, 1952.

Members of the public will be able to parade past the Queen’s coffin on her first full day in state at Westminster Hall on Thursday.

Brass plaques in the 11th century hall mark where Edward VII was buried in 1910, George V in 1936, George VI in 1952 and Queen Mary a year later. The 900-year-old hall is also where Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was laid to rest in 1965.

On Friday, the in-state lying will continue for a second full day. Large numbers of people are expected to line up in central London for the chance to visit the coffin and be part of this historic moment. Details of how the public can participate are due to be released by the government in the coming days.

Separately, King Charles and Camilla will travel to Wales on Friday, wrapping up their tour of the four nations that make up the UK.

Public access to the lie in the state continues through the weekend.

Sunday marks the last full day the Queen’s body will be on display in Westminster Hall.

On the morning of Monday September 19 – declared a bank holiday across the UK – the Queen’s lie will come to an end. The coffin will then proceed in procession once more to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral, details of which are likely to come in the following days.

Westminster Abbey, founded in 960 AD by Benedictine monks, is one of London’s most recognizable landmarks. The historic church has been the setting for every coronation since 1066, and is where Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947. But there has been no monarch’s funeral 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 in celebrating the Queen’s life and her unwavering service to the nation and the Commonwealth. While a guest list has yet to be announced, US President Joe Biden plans to attend the funeral.

Other familiar faces on the TV service will be some of the 15 Prime Ministers to have served during the Queen’s reign.

At its conclusion, the coffin will proceed in procession to Wellington Arch, before making its final journey from London to Windsor.

The George VI Memorial Chapel at St George's Chapel, Windsor, where the Queen's father and mother were interned.  A coffin containing the ashes of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, is also in the vault.
His destination is the now familiar St. George’s Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle. This is where Prince Philip’s memorial service has been held, as well as more jubilant occasions like the nuptials of the Queen’s grandchildren.

After the Duke of Edinburgh’s service in 2021, his coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, located below the Chapel, where many members of the Royal Family were laid to rest. However, he is expected to be moved to lie with the Queen in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, located elsewhere in St George’s Chapel.

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CNN’s Anna Brand and Henrik Pettersson contributed to this report.

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