Queen Elizabeth II to be laid to rest at historic state funeral
Queen Elizabeth II

London: Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest on Monday at a historic state funeral in Westminster Abbey, with around 500 world leaders, including President Droupadi Murmu and US President Joe Biden and royals from across the globe joining the solemn ceremony to bid farewell to Britain’s monarch of 70 years.

The Queen, 96, passed away peacefully at her Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle on September 8.

Just after 6.30 am on Monday morning, the last mourners left Westminster Hall as the Queen’s five-day lying-in-state ended. Her coffin will later be transported to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service at 11 am (3:30 IST).

The last member of the public to view the Queen’s coffin as it lay in state in Westminster Hall has said it will be one of the highlights in my life .

Christina Heerey, a civil member of the Royal Air Force, told The Independent newspaper that she chose to view the coffin twice because it is so quick and it’s so momentous , adding: I didn’t feel as if I had done it justice.

The state funeral on Monday will take the form of an elaborate ceremony that will see Her Majesty’s coffin transported from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey and finally to Windsor Castle.

President Murmu, who arrived on Saturday evening, will join around 500 world leaders and royals from across the world, in a congregation of around 2,000 expected at the Abbey for a sombre ceremony.

Transport for London has said it expects upwards of one million people to line the route in London.

The funeral will be broadcast live at around 125 cinemas and several cathedrals in the UK, and on a big screen in Holyrood Park in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.

Crowds of mourners are expected to flock to London, Windsor and royal sites throughout the UK on the national bank holiday, with the service set to draw millions of TV viewers across the globe.

Ahead of her funeral, the royal family released the final portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday.

In the photo, the late monarch can be seen flashing a broad smile, as she posed for the photo in a powder blue dress with an accompanying blue brooch.

Besides the visiting foreign dignitaries, hundreds of people who were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June this year will also join the congregation, including those who made extraordinary contributions to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland will be among those reading lessons during the service. The Archbishop of York, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Free Churches Moderator will say prayers and the sermon will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will also give the Commendation.

Around 4,000 military personnel have been rehearsing for days for one of the UK’s largest state events in decades, with the last state funeral at the Abbey held in 1965 for Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Elements of the state funeral service and the associated ceremonial arrangements will pay tribute to the Queen’s extraordinary reign, and Her Majesty’s remarkable life of service as head of state, nation and Commonwealth, Buckingham Palace said.

The coffin is draped with the Royal Standard, on which lie the instruments of state the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre, where they will remain for the duration of the state funeral and a Committal Service at Windsor Castle later on Monday.

At 10:44 am local time, the coffin will be borne in procession on the state gun carriage of the Royal Navy from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the funeral. Immediately following the coffin will be King Charles and senior royals and members of the King’s household. The National Anthem, a rendition of God Save the King’, will bring the state funeral service to a close around noon local time after a two-minute nationwide silence.

After the service, the world leaders are to be hosted by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly at the Church House on the Abbey grounds and President Murmu is expected to join before leaving for New Delhi later on Monday.

Meanwhile, the coffin will return to the state gun carriage for a procession to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in London.

Minute Guns will be fired in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, and Big Ben the largest bell in the Elizabeth Tower named after Queen Elizabeth II will toll throughout the duration of the procession. According to officials, as a result of the recent conservation programme for the iconic London landmark, a muffler will be used which creates a quieter tone.

A state hearse will then take the coffin to Windsor, where a procession joined by members of the royal family will head for the Committal Ceremony at St. George’s Chapel.

A private burial will take place on Monday evening at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, a small enclave within the historic chapel which is to be the Queen’s final resting place along with the coffin of her late husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9, 2021 aged 99.

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