Mourners begin arriving at Westminster Abbey for Queen’s state funeral

·5-min read
Guests and officials begin to take their places in Westminster Abbey (Frank Augstein/PA) (PA Wire)
Guests and officials begin to take their places in Westminster Abbey (Frank Augstein/PA) (PA Wire)

Mourners are arriving at Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s state funeral, with members of the royal family and world leaders among 2,000 people expected at the ceremony.

Crowds of mourners have flocked to London, Windsor and royal sites throughout the UK on the national bank holiday, with the service set to draw millions of TV viewers across the globe.

All public viewing areas for the funeral procession in the capital were full by just after 9am.

Overnight, the final members of the public queued to see the Queen lying in state in Parliament’s Westminster Hall before her coffin is moved to the nearby abbey.

The royal family, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be among the 2,000 people gathered at Westminster Abbey to remember the late monarch on Monday morning, before a committal service at Windsor Castle.

The day marks the climax of what is being regarded as the biggest security operation the UK has ever seen, surpassing the operation for the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the London 2012 Olympics, which saw up to 10,000 police officers on duty per day.

The royal family will walk in procession behind the Queen’s coffin as it is carried through the Gothic church by the military bearer party.

The King and the Queen Consort will walk immediately behind the coffin, followed by the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Black Rod walks through Westminster Hall at 6.29am to pay her respects on the final day of the lying in state (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Black Rod walks through Westminster Hall at 6.29am to pay her respects on the final day of the lying in state (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

George and Charlotte will walk with their parents side-by-side in formation, followed by their uncle and aunt the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other members of the royal family.

The service follows the Queen’s lying in state period at Westminster Hall, which ended at 6.30am.

Chrissy Heerey, who was the last member of the public to leave the Hall, said: “It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here.”

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Sima Mansouri, who was the penultimate member of the queue to pass through Westminster Hall to see the Queen’s coffin, said: “It was extremely spiritual. I know it might sound silly but I felt that she was there, her presence.”

The Queen’s coffin will be taken in a grand military procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the funeral at 11am.

Before the service, conducted by the Very Rev David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, the tenor bell will be tolled every minute for 96 minutes, reflecting the years of the Queen’s life.

Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, members of European royal families and key figures from public life will gather at the abbey.

But invitations were not sent to Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine, while Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Myanmar’s military junta and Syria’s Bashar Assad were also excluded.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

The Queen’s Piper, Warrant Officer Class 1 (Pipe Major) Paul Burns, will play the traditional lament Sleep, Dearie, Sleep after The Last Post, two minutes’ silence, Reveille and the national anthem.

The funeral will be broadcast live at around 125 cinemas and several cathedrals in the UK, and on a big screen in Holyrood Park in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.

At 12.15pm, the coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and then travel to Windsor.

The hearse will then travel in procession to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle via the Long Walk, after which a televised committal service will take place in St George’s Chapel at 4pm.

The Dean of Windsor will conduct the service, with prayers said by the Rector of Sandringham, the Minister of Crathie Kirk and the Chaplain of Windsor Great Park.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

The chapel’s choir will sing and after the penultimate hymn, the imperial state crown, the orb and the sceptre will be moved from the Queen’s coffin to the altar.

After the final hymn, the King will place the Queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin, while the Lord Chamberlain breaks his Wand of Office and places it on the coffin.

The Dean of Windsor will say a psalm and the Commendation while the Queen’s coffin is lowered into the royal vault.

After this, the Sovereign’s Piper will play a lament and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will pronounce the blessing, before the congregation sings the national anthem.

Ahead of the service, Mr Welby said: “We come together to give thanks for a long life, lived in service to her people and her saviour, Jesus Christ.”

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Later in the evening, there will be a private interment service with senior members of the royal family, where the Queen will be reunited with her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, an annex to the main chapel where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

Philip’s coffin will move from the royal vault to the memorial chapel to join the Queen’s.