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LONDON — Britain is bidding farewell to Queen Elizabeth II — and it’s doing it in style.
As world leaders gather in London for the monarch’s state funeral Monday, much of the country will grind to a halt. Shops and pubs will shut, Brits will take the day off work and school, and the country will pause and reflect on a remarkable seven-decade reign with a nationwide moment of silence.
It marks the first state funeral to take place in the U.K. since the death of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965, and truly the end of an era — so no detail has been left to chance. Here’s POLITICO’s guide to what to expect.
How the day unfolds
Expect plenty of pomp, a hefty dose of ceremony — and a rare moment of quiet and tranquility for a country that’s spent so much of the past decade arguing with itself.
At 6.30 a.m. U.K. time Monday, the queen’s lying-in-state officially comes to an end, bringing to a close what has been an unprecedented show of affection for the monarchy from members of the British public — encapsulated, of course, by that epic queue. Even for a nation of queuers, Brits outdid themselves, lining up for miles to file past the late monarch’s coffin as it lay under the centuries-old hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall. Doors close Monday morning.
At 10.44 a.m., the queen’s coffin is loaded onto a gun carriage for the procession to nearby Westminster Abbey. The new king will follow on foot, accompanied by senior members of the royal family.
At 11 a.m., the funeral service itself — attended by world leaders and foreign dignitaries (more on that grumbling lot below) — begins. The dean of Westminster will conduct the service, and there will be readings from Prime Minister Liz Truss — appointed by the queen just two days before her death — as well as Patricia Scotland, secretary general of the Commonwealth of Nations, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of England.
Expect an understated affair (by royal standards, at least) in keeping with the queen’s wishes. Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu, briefed on the arrangements during his time in office, told the BBC Sunday that the queen “did not like what she called ‘long, boring services,’” and promised a ceremony rooted in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the traditional prayer book of the Anglican Church.
At 11.55 a.m., The Last Post — a short, traditional fanfare played in remembrance — will sound, before all of Britain comes to a halt for a nationwide two-minute silence. The funeral itself draws to a close — but there’s more to come.
At around 12 p.m., the queen’s coffin is transported to Wellington Arch on the corner of London’s Hyde Park in a procession led by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the military, Northern Ireland’s police service, and workers from Britain’s much-loved National Health Service.
After that, the final journey begins, as the coffin slowly winds its way by state hearse to Windsor Castle, the royal residence 30 miles west of London in the leafy heart of Berkshire.
Due to arrive in Windsor a little after 3 p.m., the hearse will then journey through the town ahead of the televised committal service. This begins at 4 p.m. inside St George’s Chapel and will be conducted by the dean of Windsor, with some 800 guests in attendance.
Expect several moments of very British ceremony at the committal. Before the final hymn, the imperial state crown, orb and scepter will be removed from the queen’s coffin and placed on the altar, to be later transported to the Tower of London, where the crown jewels are kept.
Before the queen’s coffin is lowered into the royal vault, tradition dictates that the lord chamberlain — a role currently held by former spy chief Andrew Parker — should ceremonially “break” his wand of office and place it on the coffin, signaling the end of his service to the queen.
At 7.30pm, a private interment will take place at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, the final resting place of the queen’s father, mother and sister.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip — whose remains have been held in the royal vault since his death last year — will be interred in the chapel alongside her.
Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the world of global royalty and diplomacy — so keep your eyes peeled for the usual heady mix of protocol breaches, hot mic moments and presidents sitting in the wrong chairs.
Around 500 leaders and dignitaries from the U.K. and across the world are expected to join the royal family for the funeral at Westminster Abbey, and there’s been frantic jostling for invites ahead of the event — as well as plenty of whining over the buses British officials have asked most world leaders to take for the funeral.
Those invited range from the relatively uncontroversial — the kings and queens of Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain; U.S. President Joe Biden; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen — to the somewhat more eyebrow-raising.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was invited, despite howls of protest from human rights campaigners and reporters still outraged at the state-ordered killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.K. foreign office sources said Sunday he would not be attending, with Riyadh expected to be represented by Prince Turki bin Mohammed al Saud instead.
Although Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be there, there’s anger from British MPs too at the attendance of a Chinese delegation, given the sanctions Beijing has imposed on outspoken lawmakers in the U.K. And there’s an almighty row underway over the attendance of Spain’s exiled former king, whom the country’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has branded a “criminal on the run” over fraud allegations.
Also notable by his absence is Vladimir Putin, or indeed any rep from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. “We view this British attempt to use a national tragedy that has touched the hearts of millions of people around the world for geopolitical purposes to settle scores with our country during the days of mourning as profoundly immoral,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
Beyond the diva world leaders, look out too for at least a handful of representatives from planet earth. Expect to see military servicemen and women who have received the Victoria Cross and George Cross awards; a number of members of the queen’s staff; and 183 members of the public. The latter group were chosen for their service to the community, and recognized in the queen’s birthday honors list.
How can I watch?
As is fitting of a massive global news event, you’re not short of viewing options.
Traditionalists will want to stick to the BBC, the state broadcaster that will inevitably get a kicking from just about everybody for being either too patriotic or not patriotic enough in its coverage, depending on your own disposition.
The Beeb is providing full coverage of the state funeral on television, radio and its online iPlayer service, with a special program — helmed by Huw Edwards, Kirsty Young, Fergal Keane, David Dimbleby and Sophie Raworth — on air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Edgy alternative types can always opt for Sky News, which will roll from an ungodly 5 a.m. outside Westminster Abbey. Hosts on the day include Kamali Melbourne, Kay Burley, Anna Botting, Jayne Secker and Mark Austin.
ITV is also broadcasting the service and procession live. It’s tapped up Mary Nightingale, Chris Ship, Rageh Omaar, Nina Hossain and Charlene White for the day’s coverage, and is running two special documentaries — “Queen Elizabeth II: A Nation Remembers” and “Queen Elizabeth II: The Final Farewell” — from 7.30 p.m. In a sign of normal life returning, ITV will later this week begin showing commercials between shows for the first time since the queen’s death.
For those tuning in stateside, CNN’s Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper are in London for a day of coverage, as are CBS’s Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell; NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb; and Fox News’ Martha MacCallum — who gets to savor the endless wisdom of star guest and famed Meghan Markle fan Piers Morgan later in the day.
How can I not watch?
Feeling a bit queasy from weeks of royal coverage? Don’t worry: Britain’s Channel Five has you covered.
While the rest of the nation mourns, it’s broadcasting a somber mix of “The Emoji Movie,” “Stuart Little” and “Ice Age 3” instead.