Now that the initial shock of Queen Elizabeth II’s death may have been blunted somewhat, what’s next?
Ever since the beloved British monarch passed away in her Balmoral Castle summer home in Scotland at the age of 96, thoughts have turned to funeral arrangements for Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, as well as when her son, the new King Charles III, will hold his official coronation.
Indeed, Google queries along the lines of “when is Queen Elizabeth’s funeral” and “what happens when the queen dies” spiked in the 24 hours after her death, according to Google Trends.
Palace officials said Saturday that the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II will take place on Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey in London, after the public gets an opportunity to pay their last respects to the monarch. Details will be released later, but organizers described the ceremony as a “a fitting farewell to one of the defining figures of our times.”
Buckingham Palace previously released some details about the “mourning and condolence arrangements” for royal family residencies on Friday.
“‘In a little over a week’s time, we will come together … to lay my beloved mother to rest.’”
— King Charles III
This aligns with some leaked details of Operation London Bridge, however — the royal protocol for what happens in the U.K. after the death of the queen. And the BBC had also suggested the funeral would be held in less than two weeks.
King Charles III, in his first formal address to the world as Britain’s new monarch, said Friday that, “In a little over a week’s time, we will come together … to lay my beloved mother to rest. In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example.”
And President Joe Biden told the White House press pool on Friday that he’ll be at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral to pay his respects. “Yes. I don’t know what the details are yet, but I’ll be going,” he said.
The Buckingham Palace statement noted that King Charles III wishes for “a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen’s Funeral.”
The mourning period includes flags being set to half mast at U.K. royal residences. They will remain there until 8 a.m. local time on the morning after the final day of “Royal Mourning.”
Royal gun salutes were also fired in London on Friday in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, and at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company. The guns fired 96 rounds, marking one round for each year of the queen’s life.
Royal residences such as the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh’s Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, will all remain closed until after the queen’s funeral. There are also guidelines for floral tributes, detailing where mourners can bring flowers at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle and more. Read more here. And there’s an online Book of Condolence for those wishing to leave message available at royal.uk/send-message-condolence.
Read more: Succession to the British throne explained
The queen’s coffin left the Balmoral estate on Sunday for the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in Scotland.
Palace officials said there would be opportunities to see the late sovereign’s oak coffin as it journeys from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to Edinburgh and again in London, where her body will lie in state for four days starting Wednesday.
The reported details of the London Bridge plan, which Politico published last year, suggest the queen’s coffin will then be returned to Buckingham Palace in London via the Royal Train. There is also a contingency plan to transport the royal remains back to London by plane, if needed.
It should be noted, of course, that the details of “Operation London Bridge” may have changed since then. But we can look at these papers as rough guideline of what to possibly expect to happen next.
Five days after her death, the queen’s coffin will reportedly be taken in a slow procession (accompanied by a military parade and the royal family) from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. She would lie in state at Westminster Hall for three or four days, according to the Politico and BBC reports. Members of the public will be allowed to come and pay their respects.
The BBC explains that her coffin will lie on a raised platform called a catafalque. And each corner of the platform will be guarded by soldiers from units serving the royal household. Her coffin will be draped in the Royal Standard (a flag representing the Sovereign and the U.K.) and topped with the Imperial State Crown, orb and scepter.
Next, a state funeral would be held at the historic Westminster Abbey church — where Britain’s queens and kings are crowned — on Sept. 19.
There will then be a funeral procession (also expected to feature the royal family) to Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. The BBC says that the queen’s coffin will be lowered into the Royal Vault before being interred in the King George VI memorial chapel, located inside St George’s Chapel.