The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II — likely to be one of, if not the most watched event in history — is about to get underway.
The queen’s coffin, which had been lying-in-state at London’s Westminster Hall (where people have famously queued for in excess of 24 hours to pay their respects since Sep. 14) will travel in a grand military procession to Westminster Abbey. Followed behind will be members of the royal family, led by her son and the incoming monarch King Charles III, and his sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
Billions of people around the world are expected to tune in on the day — which has been made a public holiday in the U.K. — while hundreds of thousands of well-wishers began lining the streets in London in the early hours of Monday to pay their respects to the late queen, who has been head of state for 70 years. The funeral will also see the largest gathering of word leaders for decades. Around 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries are already seated in Westminster Abbey, including Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, who arrived in the U.K. on Saturday. On Sunday, King Charles III hosted a special reception for 1,000 guests, including world leaders, ambassadors and other royals at Buckingham Palace, during which guests joined the country in a minute’s silence — called the National Moment of Reflection — to mourn the queen’s passing.
Once the coffin reaches Westminster Abbey — the church where Britain’s kings and queens have historically been crowned and where Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip — a 55-minute service will start at 11 a.m. local time, conducted by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle. This will be followed by a two-minute national silence, after which the walking procession will transport the coffin to Wellington Arch at London’s Hyde Park Corner, where it will be moved into a hearse and driven to Windsor. There, another procession will bring the coffin to the queen’s final resting place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Prince Philip’s memorial service took place and where Prince Harry and Meghan were married. Following a televised service at 4 p.m. local time, the queen will be interred during a private service at the chapel later that day.
When she passed away peacefully aged 96 in Balmoral, Scotland on Sep. 8, Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest reigning monarch in history and the longest-serving female head of state in history. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, marking 65 years in power. (She had surpassed Victoria in 2015 to become the longest-reigning British monarch ever). She was also, undoubtedly, one of the world’s most recognizable figures, as well as being one of the most portrayed on screen.
Her death prompted an outpouring of emotion and flood of tributes from around the world.
“The death of my beloved mother, her majesty the queen, is a moment of great sadness for me and all members of my family,” said King Charles, whose ascended to the throne immediately following her death, in a statement. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt through the country, the realms, and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the queen was so widely held.”