LONDON — King Charles will be joined by his two sons, Princes William and Harry, and other senior royals for a solemn procession as the late Queen Elizabeth is taken from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to lie in state at
After the queen Elizabeth, the queen who moved with a
changing world’s death last week at her summer home of Balmoral Castle in Scotland, her coffin was taken to Edinburgh for a series of poignant ceremonies. It was then flown to London late on Tuesday.
It was brought to Buckingham Palace where Charles
and all the senior members of the Windsor royal family have
gathered – the first time they have all been together since
their matriarch died.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to accompany her on
her final journeys,” said Elizabeth’s daughter Anne, 72, who
flew down from Scotland alongside the coffin. “Witnessing the
love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been
both humbling and uplifting.”
The queen’s death, at the age of 96, has plunged the nation
into mourning for a monarch who had reigned for 70 years. Tens of thousands lined the streets of London in driving rain to watch as the oak coffin, covered by the Royal Standard flag, was taken by the state hearse from an air force base to the palace.
Inside the palace to receive it were her children,
grandchildren and their spouses, along with the children of
Elizabeth’s late sister Margaret. The coffin was taken overnight
to the Bow Room where a rota of chaplains will keep watch over
On Wednesday afternoon, the Imperial State Crown will be
placed on top, along with a wreath of flowers. Prayers will be
said with Charles and other royals present.
At 2.22 p.m. (1322 GMT), the coffin will be placed on a gun
carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery to be taken
through central London to Westminster Hall, a medieval building
with origins dating back to 1097 that is the oldest building on
the parliamentary estate.
Charles will walk in silence behind the carriage with all of
the other senior royals, including his siblings Anne, Andrew,
Also in the procession will be his two sons William, 40, now
the Prince of Wales, and Harry, 37, the Duke of Sussex, whose
once close relationship has deteriorated in recent years to such
an extent that they were said to barely be on speaking terms.
However, they appeared together alongside their wives when
they met well-wishers outside Windsor Castle on Saturday, in a
show of unity which hinted at a possible rapprochement.
Kate, William’s wife and now the Princess of Wales, and
Harry’s wife, Meghan, will travel by car, as will Charles’ wife
Camilla, now the Queen Consort.
With much of central London closed to traffic, large crowds
are expected to line the route to watch Wednesday’s procession,
which will be accompanied by guns firing every minute at Hyde
Park, while parliament’s Big Ben bell will toll.
When the cortege reaches Westminster Hall at the Palace of
Westminster, the coffin will be carried inside by soldiers from
the Grenadier Guards and placed on a catafalque. There will be a
short service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the
spiritual head of the Anglican Church.
Four days of lying in state will then begin until the
funeral on Sept. 19.
A senior palace official described Wednesday’s event as
relatively small and personal. The full-scale, ceremonial
procession on the Sept. 19, the day of her funeral, is likely to
be one of the biggest the country has ever witnessed.
With as many as 750,000 mourners expected to file past the
coffin during its period of lying-in-state, people have already
begun queuing to pay their final respects, with the government
warning they faced a long and arduous wait.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event to honor a once-in-a-lifetime woman,” said Andrew Israels-Swenson from Minnesota, who said his 82-year-old British mother asked him to attend to “represent the family.”
The Scottish government said about 33,000 people had filed
past the coffin during the 24 hours it was at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, but the memorial in London is a much larger occasion.
The hundreds of thousands predicted to join the line will be
asked to queue for up to 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) along the
southern bank of the River Thames, winding past landmarks like
the giant London Eye ferris wheel and a reconstruction of
Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
“You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight,
with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be
continuously moving,” the government said.
Although the large crowds at the ceremonies so far have been
mostly respectful or sorrowful, a handful of anti-monarchy
protesters have openly voiced dissent, leading to a couple of
incidents where arrests were made and sparking concern by civil
rights groups at the police response.
“We know there are some people who want to protest on a
range of issues even at this time of national mourning,” said
London Police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy.
“People have a right to freedom of expression and we must
balance the rights of protesters with those of others who wish
to grieve and reflect.” —Reporting by Michael Holden; Additional reporting by Kate Holton and Alistair Smout; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien