The U.K. and much of the world are mourning Queen Elizabeth II, who will be celebrated at a funeral at Westminster Abbey Monday and later laid to rest beneath St George’s Chapel with her husband of 73 years, her sister Margaret and her parents.
The state funeral is expected to be the biggest gathering of world leaders in years, draw millions of people to the streets of London, and billions more to their TVs and computer screens. The funeral and events surrounding it were designed to help unite the royal family and divided subjects while helping ensure the monarchy survives another century.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the eldest children of Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, will join their parents for their grandmother’s funeral.
The funeral’s order of service showed that George and Charlotte will walk together behind their parents. They will be followed by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and other royal family members.
The royal children’s 4-year-old brother, Prince Louis, is not expected to be present at the funeral, which will be attended by some 2,000 people.
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London’s mayor’s office said up to two million people could line the streets as members of the royal family and hundreds of foreign dignitaries and heads of state descend on Westminster Abbey for a ceremony expected to be full of all the pomp and splendor the monarchy can offer.
More than 10,000 police officers were on patrol in London with reinforcements supplied from all of Britain’s 43 police forces, authorities said. At 6 a.m. local time, snipers were on rooftops, sniffer dogs were on the streets, drains were being searched and surveillance drones have been banned from all of central London. Around 20 miles of barriers have been erected to control crowds as the queen’s coffin travels the short distance from Westminster Hall, where it is lying-in-state, to Westminster Abbey, and then onward to Windsor Castle after the funeral for burial.
A full five hours before the funeral gets underway, London’s transportation network was already busy on a public holiday, with the subway system seeing members of the public rushing to secure viewing spots in and around Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster. Many carried small fold-up chairs, and Londoners almost entirely wore black in the quiet of the city. Volunteers in purple vests every few yards provided help with directions and other needs.
Biden arrived at Westminster Abbey for the queen’s funeral in his armoured limousine, The Beast. He was among the few international diplomats who, for security reasons, did not ride on a fleet of chartered luxury buses provided for other world leaders. Biden stepped out of the The Beast a few minutes after 10 a.m. local time. He did not say anything or address the press.
Many other leaders arrived Monday morning via bus; the Bidens arrived separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro and Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal Herzog were also spotted arriving.
Biden is among many world leaders who traveled to the United Kingdom to honor Queen Elizabeth’s long reign. During his visit, Biden told media the queen “was the same in person as her image: decent, honorable and all about service.”
“Our hearts go out to the royal family, King Charles and all of the family. It’s a loss that leaves a giant hole and sometimes you think you’ll never overcome it,” the president said, adding that he told Charles the queen will be with him “every step of the way, every moment.”
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Less than an hour and a half before the funeral is set to begin, notable arrivals connected to the royal family began to trickle in. Queen Consort Camilla’s family was also photographed arriving at Westminster Abbey, including Laura Lopes, Camilla’s 44-year-old daughter, and Tom Parker Bowles, her 47-year-old son. Princess Kate’s father, Michael Middleton, was also photographed upon arrival.
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The queen will be buried at St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle, where many of her ancestors are buried, including her parents, King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother.
Following the funeral at Westminster Abbey, the coffin procession will begin, joined by King Charles, other members of the royal family, past and present members of the queen’s household, governors general and prime ministers of the realms.
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Ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, King Charles III issued a statement Sunday evening thanking people in Britain and across the world for “the many messages of condolence.”
“Over the last ten days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched,” the king said. “In London, Edinburgh, Hillsborough and Cardiff we were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother.”
“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief,” Charles concluded his statement.
Ahead of the queen’s funeral Monday, a new photograph was released Sunday.
According to the royal family on Facebook, the photo was taken to mark the queen’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this year. She was the first British monarch to reach this milestone.
“Tomorrow, millions will come together to commemorate her remarkable life,” the post read.
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Westminster Abbey, where Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be held Mond, has a centuries-long association with the royal family, hosting generations of coronations, royal weddings and funerals.
The church, which was consecrated in 1065 and “has been the setting for every coronation since 1066” and 16 royal weddings, a statement on the abbey’s website says.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s connection with Westminster Abbey ran like a thread through her early life and her long reign,” the site says. “As an 11-year-old girl, she watched as her father was crowned here. As a young adult, she married here and was crowned here.”
Fourteen English monarchs were buried there between 1066 and 1760, including Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of King Henry VIII, who was interred in the abbey in 1603. The Unknown Warrior, whose body was brought from France in 1920, is buried in the abbey’s nave. Author Charles Dickens is among those buried in Poets’ Corner of the abbey.
The funeral of Princess Diana was held at the abbey in 1997 and the Queen Mother’s funeral took place there in 2002. More recently, Prince William and Duchess Kate, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, were married there in 2011.
The queen, who died Sept. 8 in Scotland at age 96 after 70 years on the throne, was widely considered the glue holding the U.K. together. She was also the most canny of her Windsor ancestors about using ceremony and splendor to bond the monarchy and the people who pay for it.
Not since 1965, for former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, has Britain mounted a state funeral, which is usually reserved for monarchs, with exceptions for distinguished figures such as Churchill, the queen’s first prime minister of her reign.
Royal funerals are planned decades in advance by governments and the crown, and the plans are updated regularly. The monarch plays a crucial role in deciding details. The choice of flowers in the wreath on her coffin, the music and prayer selections, even the bespoke design of the Royal Hearse (lots of glass and inside light so the casket can be seen even at night), were all decisions made by the queen.
Hyde Park, one of London’s central parks, is a designated screening spot for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday. The 11 a.m.-ceremony will be broadcast live on large screens for attendees to see for free at the park, and the Hyde Park site will show the procession through London following the funeral, the procession through Windsor and the Committal Service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Signs and staff are present across the city to direct people to either the park or other “viewing areas” where they may catch a real glimpse of the state funeral route. The park and viewing areas include dedicated spots for anyone who has an accessibility need, including British Sign Language interpreters and a dedicated location for wheelchair users.
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London’s transport authority expects around 1 million people to visit the British capital Monday for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral.
Transport for London chief Andy Byford said the capital has seen “huge numbers of additional passengers” since the queen died on Sept. 8. But he said demand will “reach a climax” on Monday.
Across the country, some 250 extra train services will run, including some overnight trains. Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said Monday will see the “biggest public transport operation since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
More than 100 Heathrow Airport flights will be canceled to prevent aircraft noise from disturbing the funeral at Westminster Abbey Monday morning and the queen’s committal service at Windsor Castle afterward.
The west London airport said 15% of its 1,200 flights scheduled to take off or land on Monday will be disrupted.
Contributing: Nicole Fallert, Kim Hjelmgaard, Jane Onyanga-Omara, Maria Puente, Laura Trujillo and Naledi Ushe