The Queen’s state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on September 19 at 11am, the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk has announced.
Schools will close on the day of the funeral – giving thousands of youngsters the chance to watch the televised service and pay their respects, Government sources revealed.
Further details were confirmed on Saturday on the carefully choreographed London Bridge plans, which will include a four-day lying in state at Westminster Hall from September 14.
The Queen’s oak coffin – which is lying at rest in the Ballroom at Balmoral Castle covered in a Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath of flowers on top – will be taken by road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Sunday, on a slow six-hour journey by hearse, to allow mourners gathered in the towns and villages to pay their respects.
On September 12, the coffin, which will be at rest in the Throne Room, will be taken from Holyroodhouse in procession along the Royal Mile to St Giles’s Cathedral, before being taken by air by RAF plane to London on Tuesday.
The Queen will lie in state for “four clear days” in Westminster Hall, arriving there in the afternoon of September 14, until 6.30am on the morning of her funeral, a senior palace official said.
Thousands of people will be able to file past to see the late monarch’s coffin – and further details of how the public can attend will be announced in the coming days.
A spokesman for the King said the monarch’s main focus will be leading the royal family and nation in mourning over the coming days.
“Whilst, in the next few days, the King will carry out all the necessary state duties, his main focus will be leading the Royal Family, the nation, the Realms and the Commonwealth in mourning Her Majesty The Queen. This will include meeting members of the public, to share in their grief,” the spokesman said.
The Earl Marshal, who has overall responsibility for delivering the funeral, said it would be chance to repay a heartfelt debt by carrying out the Queen’s last wishes.
He described how he and colleagues from within the Royal Household, the Armed Forces, the Police, and other institutions of Church and State would be carrying out their duties over the coming days with “heaviest of hearts” but with “the firmest of resolve to ensure a fitting farewell to one of the defining figures of our times”.
The duke added: “While His Majesty The King was speaking about his family, I think it applies to us all when he said in his broadcast yesterday that ‘We owe her the most heartfelt debt’.
“I think we can, in some way, repay that debt by carrying out her last wishes in delivering Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral.
Among the details released were the plans for the Scottish elements – known as Operation Unicorn.
After the coffin moves on Sunday, it will rest in the Throne Room until the afternoon of Monday.
It will then travel in a procession to St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, along the Royal Mile with the King and the late Queen’s other children the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex following behind on foot, along with Anne’s husband Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.
Camilla, now Queen Consort and the Countess of Wessex will follow by car and also attend the service in St Giles’s.
The people of Scotland will be able to pay their respects when the coffin lies at rest for 24 hours in St Giles’ guarded by Vigils from The Royal Company of Archers, in what will be seen as a mini lying in state.
Continuous vigils will be kept, including one by the King and members of the royal family at 7.20pm – a tradition known as the Vigil of the Princes.
When the Queen’s coffin is flown to London by RAF aircraft to RAF Northolt on Tuesday evening, it will be accompanied by the late monarch’s only daughter the Princess Royal, before being moved to rest at Buckingham Palace’s Bow Room.
A procession on September 14 will see the coffin, adorned with the Imperial State Crown, be transported on a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster ready for the Lying in State in Westminster Hall.
The King, members of the royal family and senior staff of the late Queen and King’s households will walk slowly behind in a dignified silence without music in a route that will take 38 minutes.
Buckingham Palace declined to give details of which royals would join the procession, but it will undoubtedly be senior royals including the Queen’s children, as well as the Prince of Wales.
A palace official described it as a silent procession with no music playing, which would be “relatively small and personal” compared to vast ceremonial procession for the state funeral on the Monday.
After the coffin arrives at Westminster Hall, the Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct a short service attended by the King and other royals, after which the lying-in-state will begin.
On the morning of the funeral, the coffin will be taken in a grand military procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the state funeral, and afterwards taken by state hearse for a committal service in St George’s Chapel.