The British monarchy has always had a rather formal attitude towards death. As the core members of the family are all well aware, the highly detailed plans for what happens after their passing even have code names. It’s no surprise, then, that upon the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday, members of The Firm immediately shelved their grief and got to work on the logistics of the funeral portion of what’s known as Operation London Bridge. Here, all the answers to your questions about the UK’s first state funeral since the death of Winston Churchill, taking place on September 19.
When does the funeral start?
American royal watchers, you better rest up this weekend. The September 19 ceremony and accompanying events kick off at 11 a.m. BST, which means bright and early 3 a.m. PST and 6 a.m. EST. The ceremony will last less than an hour and be followed by a two-minute national silence.
Where will it take place?
Westminster Abbey, which has a capacity of around 2,200. And given the number of those who wish to pay their respects to the Queen, it’s a shame it doesn’t seat more.
Who will attend?
For starters, all of the Queen’s children: Princes Andrew and Edward, Princess Anne, and King Charles III, likely all in the company of their spouses. (While Andrew has been somewhat banished from the royal family, we can’t imagine that he’d be excluded from honoring his late mom.) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are also sure to be there, having traveled across the pond upon learning of the Queen’s rapidly declining health. Roughly 500 foreign dignitaries and heads of state have been asked to attend—and to do so via commercial flights and what will no doubt be a highly protected bus. U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have been excused from that last part, and there’s no word yet as to whether the former will invite his predecessor, Donald Trump, to join the national delegation. The Obamas will likely attend separately, as private invitees, and poor former president Jimmy Carter has confirmed that he’s been excluded.
So far, the kings and queens of Spain, Norway, Denmark, Monaco, Sweden, Belgium, India, South Korea, France, Turkey, and the Netherlands have all been confirmed. The Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and reportedly Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will also show face. Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly “considering sending a high-level delegation.”
Meanwhile, Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are also said to plan to attend, breaking somewhat with tradition. According to Japanese media, an Emperor of Japan has only traveled to attend the funeral of another monarch once before in recorded history. Japan’s Prime Minister may also attend separately.
What will they wear?
King Charles II, Princess Anne, and Princes Edward and Andrew will all be in military dress. (For whatever reason, the latter has been granted an exception to do so despite being stripped of his military titles.) Harry, who spent a decade in the British Army, was initially barred from wearing his uniform for having stepped back from his royal duties, but The Firm has changed course reportedly at the King’s request.
As for the non-military royals, they’ll of course. We wouldn’t be surprised if big-name attendees like Kate Middleton continue to pay homage to the Queen by wearing her old jewelry.
Who didn’t get an invite?
Namely, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. (Though the palace has permitted South Korean ambassadors, as is the case with Nicaragua.) Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, and Myanmar have all been left out.
What happens to the Queen’s coffin?
It’ll be on view at Westminster Hall from next Wednesday until the day of the funeral, and the BBC estimates that hundreds of thousands of mourners will drop by what’s known as the lying-in-state. Post-funeral, the Queen will be laid to rest in the Royal Vault of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
How can I watch it all?
Via the BBC, of course. American viewers will be able to find live coverage on CNN, ABC, NBC, and Fox News.