Sadness and solemnity hung in the grey clouds over Westminster Abbey as Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral started at 11am on Monday watched by tens of millions of people around Britain and the world.
The late monarch’s coffin had been borne on the State Gun Carriage, drawn by Royal Navy personnel, from Parliament’s Westminster Hall, where she had been lying in state for five days, to the West Gate of the ancient abbey.
It was followed by King Charles III, other members of the royal family, the King’s Household and the Household of the Prince of Wales.
Before the service, on a day of spectacular pomp and circumstance for which Britain is famed around the world, the abbey’s tenor bell tolled once per minute for 96 minutes in a nod to the years of the Queen’s life.
Inside the abbey, the Royal Family walked in procession behind the Queen’s coffin as it was carried by a military bearer party.
HM Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral: Best Pictures
The King, who had been cheered by crowds on his way from Buckingham Palace to Parliament, and the Queen Consort were 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.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte walked 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 was being led by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, and the sermon being given by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, with a lesson being read by Prime Minister Liz Truss.
The King and the Queen Consort were due to be sitting in the ornate Canada Club chairs, with Camilla next to the Princess Royal, then Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, then the Duke of York and then the Earl and Countess of Wessex in the front row of the south lantern.
Across the aisle were the Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and then Peter Phillips and Zara and Mike Tindall.
Directly behind the King were the Duke of Sussex with the Duchess of Sussex behind Camilla, with Meghan sitting next to Princess Beatrice.
US President Joe Biden was 14 rows back on the south transept behind the Polish leader and in front of the Czech Republic’s.
Ms Truss, who met the Queen at Balmoral just two days before her death, had arrived at the abbey shortly before 10.30am.
Former Prime Ministers including Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May and
Boris Johnson were also present in the abbey.
Other world leaders included Canada’s Justin Trudeau, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Australia’s Anthony Albanese, as well as French president Emmanuael Macron, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
All public viewing areas for the funeral procession in the capital were full by just after 9am.
The doors to the abbey had opened at 8am for the 2,000 people who will attend the funeral to start arriving.
Earlier, at around 6.30am, the Queen’s lying-in-state in Parliament’s medieval Westminster Hall had been brought to a close.
The last person who had queued for hours to pay their final respects was Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray.
“It felt like a real privilege to do that,” she said.
Huge crowds lined the streets of central London, down The Mall, around Parliament Square and up Constitution Hill.
Millions more were at home or in community gatherings around the country to watch the service on Monday, a Bank Holiday.
The funeral will be broadcast live at around 125 cinemas and several cathedrals in the UK, and on a big screen in Hyde Park and a string of other locations.
More than 10,000 police officers were on duty for an unprecedented security operation for the first state funeral since the one held in 1965 for Winston Churchill, the first of 15 prime ministers during the Queen’s 70-year reign.
King Charles on Sunday thanked the nation for the outpouring of support and warmth his family has received as a touching image of the Queen was released in tribute of his late mother.
A minute’s silence was held at 8pm on Sunday, with Ms Truss standing outside Downing Street, as the nation paused to reflect on the eve of Queen’s burial.
The Queen’s Piper was due to play Reveille, the national anthem and a lament to bring the funeral service to a close at around 12pm.
The Queen’s coffin was then set to be carried back to the gun carriage before the procession steps off from Westminster Abbey at 12.15pm.
The procession will move through Broad Sanctuary Parliament Square (south and east sides), Parliament Street, Whitehall, Horse Guards including Horse Guards Arch, Horse Guards Road, The Mall, Queen’s Gardens (south and west sides), Constitution Hill and Apsley Way, before arriving at Wellington Arch at 1pm.
The coffin will be lifted off the gun carriage and placed in the state hearse, which will depart for Windsor as the parade gives a royal salute and the national anthem is played.
The King and the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the royal family will depart for Windsor by car.
The hearse will approach Shaw Farm Gate in Albert Road, Windsor, and join the procession, which will have been formed up and in position to step off at 3.10pm.
A committal service will mark the end of public ceremonial arrangements, and will begin at 4pm.
The door of St George’s Chapel will open for the congregation at 3.20pm, with members of the royal family not in the procession arriving for the service at 3.25pm.
HM Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral: Best Pictures
The hearse will process along Albert Road, Long Walk, Cambridge Gate, Cambridge Drive, George IV Gate, Quadrangle (south and west sides), Engine Court, Norman Arch, Chapel Hill and the Parade Ground.
The procession, which will have been joined by the King and other family members on the north side of the quadrangle as it passes into Engine Court, will arrive at the West Steps of the chapel in Horseshoe Cloister at 3.53pm.
The bearer party will lift the coffin from the hearse and it will be carried in procession up the steps into St George’s Chapel before the committal service.
The King and members of the royal family will depart from the Galilee Porch for Windsor Castle once the service concludes.
HM Queen Elizabeth II - Her Final Year
The Dean of Windsor will later conduct a private burial service attended by the King and members of the royal family at 7.30pm.
The Queen, who died on September 8 at the age of 96, will be buried at King George VI Memorial Chapel, and will rest alongside the Duke of Edinburgh.