Queen Elizabeth’s coffin, covered by the Royal Standard flag and with the Imperial State Crown placed on a cushion on top alongside a wreath of flowers, was brought to London’s Westminster hall on Wednesday.
Thousands of people are expected to arrive at Westminster Hall to pay their respects to the longest reigning monarch of Britain, whose coffin will lie in state for four days until her funeral on Monday.
Let us take a look at what to expect for the occasion, including its traditions, the waiting route and what mourners will see:
HOW LONG WILL THE QUEEN LIE IN STATE?
Visitors who wish to pay tribute to the queen and view her coffin can do so for 24 hours a day until 6:30 am local time on Monday when the funeral will be held, reported AP news.
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SEE?
The closed coffin is draped with the Royal Standard, a flag representing the sovereign and the UK. It is adorned with royal regalia including the orb, the sceptre and the bejewelled Imperial State Crown — the same one the queen wore during her coronation in 1953.
The coffin is placed on a catafalque, or a raised platform, in the centre of Westminster Hall. Royal guards in plumed hats and ceremonial uniforms will stand 24 hours a day at each corner of the platform.
The queen’s coffin is constructed out of English oak, lined with lead and was made decades ago, said experts.
Sarah Hayes, manager of the Coffin Works museum in Birmingham, England said, “It’s to preserve the body for as long as possible, it’s really about slowing down the process of decomposition.” she told AP news. This is especially important for the queen because her coffin will eventually be placed in a church, not buried in the ground, she added.
British authorities have announced two waiting routes along the River Thames that the public need to join before they can enter Westminster Hall.
Crowds gather ahead of the ceremonial procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. (AP photo)
The government has warned that people could face 30-hour waits to pay tribute to the Queen, the BBC reported. Hundreds of extra toilets and water fountains will be placed along the route, and some venues along the way, including Shakespeare’s Globe, will open around the clock to provide refreshments and rest breaks.
AP news reported that airport-style security checks are in place near the front of the line before people can enter Parliament.
The lying in state takes place at Westminster Hall, a 900-year-old building at the capital. Built in 1097, it’s the oldest surviving building of the Palace of Westminster.
The medieval hall has been at the heart of British history for a millennium. Many iconic monarchs have hosted lavish coronation banquets in its halls. Queen Elizabeth II addressed the public from Westminster during her silver, golden and diamond jubilees.
WHO GETS TO LIE IN STATE?
In the UK, lying in state is reserved for the sovereign, queen consorts, and sometimes prime ministers.
Queen Mary, King George VI and King George V were among the royals who lay in state at Westminster Hall. Winston Churchill was the only British prime minister to have a lying-in-state ceremony in the 20th century.
The remains of King George V lie in state until the royal funeral, with the Household troops standing guard at Westminster Hall in London on Jan. 23, 1936. (AP photo)
The last person to lie in state in Britain was Elizabeth’s mother, known as the Queen Mother. Some 200,000 people paid their respects to her over three days when she died in 2002.
WHERE IS THE QUEEN’S FINAL RESTING PLACE?
After the state funeral on September 19, the coffin will be taken to Windsor where the queen will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. The chapel lies within St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen’s mother and father were interred and her sister Princess Margaret’s ashes were placed.
Prince Philip’s coffin, which is currently in St. George’s Chapel’s Royal Vault, is expected to be moved to the memorial chapel to join the queen’s.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, died on September 8 at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle.