Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral: What to expect

Following 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 had the chance to pay their last respects.

On Sunday morning, gamekeepers carried it to a waiting hearse, and then the beloved monarch left Balmoral for the last time. The first leg of the Queen’s final journey saw the royal cortege make a six-hour journey to Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The trip by road ordinarily takes around three hours, however, it was slowly driven to allow people to witness the procession and bow their heads as it passed.

An honor guard made up of the Royal Regiment of Scotland greeted the hearse in Edinburgh with a royal salute before the coffin was transferred to the Throne Room by a military bearer party.

Meanwhile, back in London, the King met with the Commonwealth secretary general before hosting a reception for the high commissioners from the realms of which he is now head of state in Buckingham Palace’s Bow Room.

On Monday morning, the King started the day with a trip to Westminster Hall where both Houses of Parliament expressed their condolences. He and his wife Camilla then flew to Edinburgh, where they headed straight to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

In the afternoon, the King led a procession carrying the Queen’s coffin to St. Giles’ Cathedral for a service of prayer and reflection attended by members of the royal family, as well as a congregation made up “from all areas of Scottish society,” according to a senior palace official. Afterward, the coffin rests there for 24 hours to allow the Scottish public to see it.

Following the service, the King had an audience with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and a meeting with the presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament. Charles, accompanied by the Queen Consort, also went to the Scottish Parliament to receive a motion of condolence.

In the evening, the King and members of the royal family were expected to mount their own guard — or vigil — of the Queen’s coffin.

On Tuesday, the King and Camilla will make a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland. The couple will visit Hillsborough Castle and view an exhibition on the Queen’s long association with Northern Ireland. The King will then meet the secretary of state for Northern Ireland in addition to other leaders of other parties, 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 as it is flown back to London. At 5 pm (12 pm ET) the coffin will journey 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, the Queen Consort, as well as other members of the Windsor clan, will be waiting for the coffin’s arrival at around 8 pm (3 pm ET). The Dean of the Chapels Royal will conduct prayers and a bearer party 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.

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.

For this journey, the coffin will be adorned with the Imperial State Crown and a flower wreath. The procession route will set off at 2:22 pm (9:22 am ET) along The Mall, across Horse Guards Parade, past Downing Street toward Westminster.

In what is likely to be a poignant moment, members of the royal family will walk behind their beloved matriarch. They will be followed by senior staff from the royal households as well as close personal staff and members of the Household Division. As crowds watch the procession — which will take around 40 minutes — Big Ben will toll and minute guns fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Hyde Park will echo across the capital.

The Queen’s coffin 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.

Upon its arrival at Westminster Hall, a short service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, after which the hall will open from 5 pm (noon ET) for the public to pay their 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 file past the Queen’s coffin during its first full day lying in state at Westminster Hall on Thursday.

The hall will be open 24 hours a day until 6:30 am (1:30 am) on the day of the Queen’s funeral. The UK government has warned that those wishing to pay their respects “will be required to queue for many hours, possibly overnight.” All those attending the lying in state will go through “airport-style” security with only small bags permitted.

Brass plaques in the 11th-century hall mark the spot where Edward VII lay in state in 1910, George V in 1936, George VI in 1952 and Queen Mary a year later. The hall, which is 900 years old, is also where wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill lay in state in 1965.

On Friday, the lying in state will continue for a second full day. Huge numbers of people are expected to line up in central London for a chance to visit the coffin and be part of this historic moment.

Separately, King Charles and Camilla will visit Wales on Friday, bringing their tour of all four nations that make up the United Kingdom to a close.

Public access to the lying in state continues into the weekend.

Sunday marks the final full day the Queen’s body will lie in state at Westminster Hall.

The UK public has also been invited to observe a minute’s silence at 8 pm (3 pm ET) in a national moment of reflection.

On the morning of Monday, September 19 — declared a public holiday across the UK — the Queen’s lying in state will end. The coffin will then travel in procession once more to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral, the details of which will likely come in the following days.

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 the guest list has not yet been announced, US President Joe Biden plans to attend the funeral.

Other familiar faces at the televised service will be some of the 15 prime ministers to have served during the Queen’s reign.

At its conclusion, the coffin will travel in procession to Wellington Arch, before making its final journey out of London to Windsor.

The George VI Memorial Chapel in St.  George's Chapel, Windsor, where the Queen's father and mother were interred.  A casket containing the ashes of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, is also in the vault.
Its destination is the now-familiar St. George’s Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle. It’s where Prince Philip’s memorial service was held, as well as more jubilant occasions like the nuptials of the Queen’s grandchildren.

Following the service for the Duke of Edinburgh in 2021, his coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, set below the chapel, where many royal family members have been laid to rest. However, he is expected to be relocated to lie together with the Queen in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, located elsewhere within St. George’s Chapel.

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


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