Today is the last day for heads of state to respond to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, September 19. For those planning on watching the streets of London or on television, here’s the guide to where to watch the funeral procession and how to get around London in the process.
This will be one of the biggest events ever staged by the military, and the police have called it a logistical nightmare. Transport for London has said it is much more difficult than hosting the London 2012 Olympics because they then had an idea of the planned events and ticket holders. In this case, no one knows for sure how many people will be on the streets of central London and how and when they will decide to travel. The added complication is that heads of state from all countries have been invited (except six: Russia, Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan).
The lying state of Queen Elizabeth II
Her Majesty is currently in state in Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster (known as Parliament). The coffin stands on a pedestal called a catafalque draped in the Royal Standard flag with a sphere and a scepter on it.
She is surrounded by members of the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, the Household Division of Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, who watch around the clock, with a changing of the guard every 20 minutes.
The government has a live queue tracker to indicate how long the queue is to pay your respects to Queen Elizabeth II while her coffin is in the state.
On Thursday the line ranged from 2 to 7.6 miles, passing Waterloo along the South Bank, past Borough Market and HMS Belfast across the River Thames to London Bridge. Infrastructure is in place to handle a queue of up to 10 miles. To give an example, a 7.6-mile queue would mean a 9-hour wait.
There are very specific instructions for visitors who want to queue to pay their respects:
- There is a separate access point for mourners with disabilities, starting at Tate Britain. It is not necessary to provide data or proof of the disability in question.
- There is also stepless access for those who need it.
- People queuing will be given wristbands marking their place, meaning they can leave for comfort breaks and a bite to eat.
- Photography is not allowed in Westminster Hall.
- Everyone goes through security (in Victoria Tower Gardens) and people can store large bags (necessary to survive a night in line) in the designated lockers. Obviously no sharp objects are allowed and no objects should be left in Westminster Hall.
- Queues are only allowed to carry one small bag measuring no more than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm, with only one opening or zipper.
- Mourners are asked to observe silence as they walk through Westminster Hall.
Westminster Hall is open 24 hours a day until 6:30 am on Monday, September 19, the day of her funeral. Dignitaries arriving for the funeral will also be able to visit through a separate entrance and join the crowd as they shuffle past to pay their respects.
If you can’t attend the state presentation currently taking place at Westminster Hall, the TBEN will be streaming the event live here.
On Sunday, September 18 at 8 p.m. Dutch time, there will be a national minute of silence for the Queen.
The Queen’s funeral is on Monday, September 19 at 11 a.m.
The route has been mapped out to the minute:
- The congregation is expected to take place at Westminster Abbey from 8am.
- Monday morning at 10:44am, the coffin will be placed on the same coach that carried Queen Victoria’s coffin in 1901 for the short procession to Westminster Abbey, where Queen Elizabeth II will arrive at 10:52am. Members of the royal family will walk behind her, as they did when she left Buckingham Palace this week and 200 musicians will play.
- The service begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 12 noon, after a two-minute silence across the country.
- At that time, the coffin will be carried in procession by coach to Wellington Arch, led by members of the police and armed forces, as well as NHS employees.
- For anyone wishing to see the procession, it runs from Westminster Abbey through Whitehall, over Horse Guard’s Parade, past The Mall and finally to Constitution Hill.
- From here a hearse will drive the coffin to Windsor where it is expected to arrive at Shaw Farm Gate at 3:06 pm and there will be a procession on The Long Walk (for the expected large crowds) for another short televised service at 4:00 pm from Saint George Chapel.
- Her Majesty’s body will be interred in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at 7:30 p.m. in a private service for her family only. She is buried next to her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Practical information for moving in London
Monday has been declared a public holiday, meaning many services, such as doctors and schools, will be closed. Expect museums across the country to be closed as well.
Many shops and eateries will be closed – MacDonald’s, for example, closes all stores between midnight and 5 p.m., and all major supermarkets close larger stores, but some keep smaller stores open. That means it’s worth packing picnics and plenty of provisions, because even if they stay open, there can be long queues.
All planned railway strikes were called off when news of the Queen’s death was announced. However, all public transport routes are expected to be heavily congested – when moving around central London, walking may be the best option as distances between stations are often shorter than they appear on the Tube map.
Transport for London reported that 115,000 more tube journeys were made in the eight major stations in Zone 1 on Wednesday alone, compared to the same day last week.
British Airways has canceled 1 in 7 flights, as reported by The Telegraph, to keep the air clear and to keep noise pollution to a minimum. Heathrow airport has announced it will stop all flights 15 minutes before the national silence and 15 minutes after, as reported by the guard. This will reportedly disrupt 15% of Heathrow’s schedule for Monday.
How to watch the Queen’s funeral on television?
In the UK, Sky News and the TBEN will both be covering the service and commentary throughout the day. In the US, NBC, CNN, TBEN, TBEN News and others will livestream the service starting at 3 a.m. PT or 6 a.m. ET.