What time is the Queen’s funeral? Who will wear military uniform? And other questions

Flowers and tributes to Queen Elizabeth II are pictured outside of Windsor Castle on September 9, 2022Image source, Reuters

A period of national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II is under way in the UK. It will continue until the end of the day of her state funeral.

When is the Queen’s funeral?

It will take place at 11:00 BST on Monday 19 September.

The funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey – the historic church where Britain’s kings and queens are crowned.

What is a state funeral?

A state funeral is typically held for a king or queen and follows strict rules of protocol. A military procession carries the coffin to Westminster Hall, and is followed by a period of lying-in-state, and a service at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral.

In rare cases, a state funeral can also be held for “other exceptionally distinguished persons”. These have included Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Lord Palmerston.

The last state funeral was that of Sir Winston Churchill on 30 January 1965. The state funeral of George VI, the Queen’s father, took place on 15 February 1952.

Ceremonial funerals share many of the elements of state funerals.

These were held for Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and the Queen Mother in 2002. Baroness Thatcher had a ceremonial funeral with full military honors at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2013.

How can I watch the funeral?

It will be on BBC Television and be available to stream on BBC iPlayer, with updates on the BBC News website and BBC Radio throughout the day.

Other networks are also expected to broadcast the event, and it will be shown on big screens in many towns and cities across the UK.

Who will wear military uniform?

Buckingham Palace confirmed that only working members of the Royal Family who hold military rank will wear uniform while attending the five ceremonial events designed to mark the Queen’s death:

  • the service of thanksgiving at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
  • the procession to Westminster Hall, and service of prayer and reflection
  • the vigil at Westminster Hall
  • the state funeral service at Westminster Abbey
  • the committal service at St George’s Chapel Windsor

This means King Charles, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex will wear military dress.

The Duke of Sussex will not.

media caption,

Watch: King Charles and Princes William and Harry walk behind Queen Elizabeth’s coffin

Prince Harry, who served in the British Army for 10 years and was deployed to Afghanistan twice, lost his three honorary military titles when he and his wife Meghan Markle stepped back from their senior royal roles in March 2020.

His spokesperson said: “Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex will wear a morning suit throughout events honoring his grandmother. His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears, and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

The Queen’s second son, the Duke of York also will not wear a military uniform.

Prince Andrew spent 22 years in the Royal Navy, and served as a helicopter pilot during the Falklands War in 1982. He stepped down as a working Royal in 2019 after a controversial Newsnight interview, and was later stripped of his military titles.

He was the only one of the Queen’s children not to wear a uniform when they accompanied her coffin to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday, although he did wear a number of medals and military decorations.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption

The four Royal siblings walked behind the Queen’s hearse through the streets of Edinburgh

However, it is understood that a special exception has been made for Prince Andrew to wear military uniform at the final “Vigil of the Princes”, which will be held at the Queen’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall before the funeral.

Who else will attend the funeral?

Leaders and royals from around the world will join members of the Royal Family.

US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are among those who have confirmed their attendance.

What does lying-in-state mean?

Lying-in-state describes the formal occasion in which a coffin is placed on view before the funeral ceremony. It happens after the death of a King, Queen or Queen Consort, and sometimes former prime ministers.

The Queen’s lying-in-state began at 17:00 BST on Wednesday at Westminster Hall in London. It will be open for 24 hours until 06:30 BST on Monday, the day of the funeral.

Image source, PA Media

Hundreds of thousands of mourners are expected to file past. Those wishing to attend will have to queue for many hours – with little opportunity to sit down, as the queue is continuously moving.

The BBC is offering a dedicated stream of the lying-in-state, for people who cannot travel to London and wish to pay their respects virtually.

The service is available on the BBC home page, the BBC News website and app, the iPlayer, the BBC Parliament and the Red Button.

What happens during a vigil?

Watching over a coffin is sometimes called a vigil.

On Monday evening, King Charles held a vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral with his siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption

Queen Elizabeth’s children held a vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh

During the Queen’s lying-in-state in Westminster Hall, each corner of the platform on which her coffin rests will be guarded around the clock by a vigil of soldiers.

These will be drawn from units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division and the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.

King Charles and his siblings will carry out another vigil at Westminster Hall before the funeral.

Where will the Queen be buried?

The final journey of the Queen’s coffin will be to St. George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle.

There will be a committal service with a small congregation, including the Royal Family, which will also be televised. This will end with the coffin being lowered into the Royal Vault.

Later in the day, in a private service, the coffin will be buried at the King George VI memorial chapel, inside St George’s Chapel.

Will there be a bank holiday?

Yes. One of King Charles III’s first acts as monarch was to approve a national bank holiday, on the day of the Queen’s state funeral.

The government says it will “give as many people as possible the opportunity on the day of the State Funeral to mark Her Majesty’s passing”.

Will schools, shops and businesses be closed?

The right to have a bank holiday off is not automatic. The government says it encourages “employers to respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off”.

However, major shops and businesses across the UK have announced that they will close their doors as a mark of respect on the day of her funeral.

Schools are also expected to remain closed.

GP surgeries can close. Some dentists will not see patients, and some hospitals have canceled routine appointments due to taking place on the day as well.

However, NHS bosses have been told to make sure patients can access emergency out-of-hours care on the day.

Center Parcs backtracked on its initial decision to ask guests to leave five of its sites on the day of the Queen’s funeral “as a mark of respect”.

The move was criticized by holidaymakers who would have had to leave part-way through their break and return afterwards.

Image source, Getty Images

Will events be cancelled?

There is no obligation to cancel or postpone events during the period of national mourning.

However, government guidance says if sporting fixtures or events are planned for the day of the funeral, organizations may want to adjust the timings.

Three Premier League games have been postponed this weekend ahead of the funeral, but other football matches are resuming after a break last weekend.

When is the coronation?

No date has been set so far for the coronation, which is when King Charles is formally crowned.

The ceremony is unlikely to take place immediately, because of the planning required. Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in February 1952, but was not crowned until June 1953.

A decision about whether the day of the coronation will be a bank holiday will be made nearer the time.

Will money change?

The Royal Mint will not say how or when it will start issuing coins with King Charles III’s head on them.

Bank notes with the Queen on them will also be gradually phased out, but all notes and coins will remain legal tender.

The Bank of England will give lots of notice if that is to change.

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