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Queen’s funeral: first details

12 September 2022


WESTMINSTER ABBEY will be closed for much of this week to allow preparations for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which is to take place at 11 a.m. next Monday, 19 September. From Tuesday onwards, public worship will move to St Margaret’s, Westminster. There will be no public services in either church over the weekend of 17 and 18 September.

The late Queen is strongly associated with the Abbey, a Royal Peculiar, and she was a frequent visitor over her lifetime. It was where she was married in 1947, and crowned in 1953. The most recent service she attended was the memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh, in March this year (News, 1 April).

There has not been a royal funeral at the Abbey since the funerals of the Queen Mother in 2002, and of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

As sovereign, the late Queen will have a state funeral. Hers is the first state funeral since the service for Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, and, before that, for King George VI in 1953. The only monarch not to be given a state funeral in the past almost 300 years was Edward VIII, who abdicated.

The service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle. The Archbishop of Canterbury will preach the sermon. Music will be sung by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, directed by James O’Donnell, the Abbey’s Organist and Master of the Choristers.

As well as the King and the rest of the Royal Family, the congregation is expected to include members of foreign royal families, the Prime Minister, members of the Government and the Opposition, many heads of state from around the world, including the US President, and representatives of the late Queen’s patronages.

No tickets will be available for the general public, but the service will be broadcast on TV, radio, and online.

Dr Hoyle said this week that “an awful lot” of the detail of the service was under strict embargo. He spoke of the seriousness of the task ahead.

“It is both a significant privilege and a significant responsibility to be a place where mourning and thanksgiving will be focused,” he said on Monday. “It is our job now to offer to God the same disciplined integrity that her late Majesty offered us. There is a wonderful team of people at the Abbey, proud to work here and proud of our association with both the Queen and our new King. There is a lot to do, and we are busy, focused, and confident.”

The late Queen’s coffin will arrive from Westminster Hall, where it will lie in state from Wednesday 14 September. It is expected that many thousands will queue to pay their respects.

The coffin will be carried from Westminster Hall to the Abbey on the state gun carriage of the Royal Navy, and the cortege will be drawn by sailors rather than horses. Senior members of the family are expected to follow on foot, as they did for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Duke of Edinburgh.

After the service, the coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, and then to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for a service of committal. The King and senior members of the Royal Family are expected to join the procession in the Quadrangle in Windsor Castle beforehand.

The Queen will be buried in the King George VI memorial chapel, where her parents were buried, and where the ashes of her sister Princess Margaret were interred.

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