16 April 2024

Queen’s funeral to be ‘fitting tribute to an extraordinary reign’

The Queen’s state funeral will “unite people across the globe and resonate with people of all faiths” and pay a “fitting tribute to an extraordinary reign”, the man in charge of the historic occasion has said.

The Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, described the task as “both humbling and daunting. An honour and a great responsibility”.

Two thousand people including world leaders and foreign royals will gather inside Westminster Abbey in London on Monday for the final farewell to the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

Some 800 people, including members of the Queen’s Household and Windsor estate staff, will attend the committal service afterwards at 4pm in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Further details of the ceremony and the next few days were released by Buckingham Palace.

The Prince and Princess of Wales visited the sea of flowers left for the Queen at the gates of Sandringham House in Norfolk on Thursday.

William told one mourner that walking behind the Queen’s coffin to the lying in state on Wednesday was difficult, and reminded him of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral.

Caroline Barwick-Walters, 66, from Neath in South Wales, said: “He told us how difficult it was yesterday, how it brought back memories of walking behind his mother’s coffin.”

In Westminster Hall, a constant procession of mourners is filing past the Queen as she lies in state, after they queued for hours with the line stretching along the South Bank for more than four miles to Bermondsey Beach.

At Manchester Cathedral, the Earl and Countess of Wessex lit candles in memory of the Queen.

The Palace confirmed the Queen will be interred with the Duke of Edinburgh in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in a private service at 7.30pm on Monday.

But the burial service conducted by the Dean of Windsor and attended by the King and royals will remain entirely private, as a “deeply personal family occasion”.

The King, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex will mount a 15-minute vigil around the Queen’s coffin as it lies in state at 7.30pm on Friday.

After the funeral, the King and members of the royal family will walk behind the Queen’s coffin to Wellington Arch when it leaves Westminster Abbey, before it is driven to Windsor on the state hearse.

It will move from central London to Windsor, on a route that has not been disclosed by the Palace, but the hearse will travel down the famous Long Walk to the castle.

In the quadrangle, it will be joined by the King and members of the royal family who will follow behind on foot as the Queen’s coffin approaches the gothic chapel.

The earl said: “The events of recent days are a reminder of the strength of our Constitution, a system of government, which in so many ways is the envy of the world.

“The Queen held a unique and timeless position in all our lives. This has been felt more keenly over the past few days as the world comes to terms with her demise.

“Her Majesty’s passing has left many people across many continents with a profound sense of loss.

“The respect, admiration and affection in which the Queen was held make our task both humbling and daunting. An honour and a great responsibility.

“It is our aim and belief that the state funeral and events of the next few days will unite people across the globe and resonate with people of all faiths, whilst fulfilling Her Majesty and her family’s wishes to pay a fitting tribute to an extraordinary reign.”

Moving elements of the funeral will include the sounding of the Last Post at 11.55am as the service nears its end, followed by a two-minute national silence which will be observed by the abbey congregation and by millions across the UK.

The Reveille and then the National Anthem will then take place, and finally a Lament played by the Queen’s Piper which will bring the service to a close at noon.

On Monday morning, the doors of Westminster Abbey will open at 8am as the congregation begins to take its seats, three hours before the service begins at 11am.

Heads of state and overseas government representatives, including foreign royal families, governors general and Realm prime ministers, will gather at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and “travel under collective arrangements” to the abbey, a senior Palace official said.

Recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross including Government, Parliament, devolved Parliaments and Assemblies, the Church, and Her Majesty’s Patronages are among those, with further representatives from law, emergency services, public servants and professions, and public representatives.

The King will once again lead his family in marching behind the Queen’s coffin when it is moved, at 10.44am on Monday, from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral service.

He will walk with Anne, Andrew and Edward, and behind the quartet will be the Queen’s grandsons Peter Phillips, the Duke of Sussex and the Prince of Wales.

They will be followed by the late monarch’s son-in-law Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Gloucester, and her nephew the Earl of Snowdon.

The Queen’s coffin will be carried during the procession on a 123-year-old gun carriage, pulled by 98 Royal Navy sailors using ropes in a tradition dating back to the funeral of Queen Victoria.

The procession will be led by a massed Pipes & Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas, and the Royal Air Force – numbering 200 musicians.

The service will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, with Prime Minister Liz Truss and Commonwealth secretary general Baroness Scotland reading the lessons, and the Archbishop of Canterbury delivering the sermon.