Queen Elizabeth II's coffin to lie in state as official period of mourning begins in UK

19 mins read

Queen Elizabeth II dies at the age of 96

The nation is officially in mourning after Buckingham Palace announced the monarch died “peacefully” at Balmoral Castle yesterday, with members of her close family by her bedside. An online book of condolence is available on the royal website, with mourning users asked to fill out a form to send their message to the Royal Family. A selection of messages will be passed on to members of the Royal Family, and may be held in the Royal Archives.

Thursday would traditionally have been D-Day or D+0 in the original plans for the aftermath of the Queen’s death, codenamed London Bridge.

But since the announcement came late in the day, at around 6.30pm on Thursday, September 8, plans have been shifted a day to allow the complex arrangements to be put in place, meaning today, Friday, will be considered D+0.

King Charles III was joined at Balmoral Castle by the monarch’s other children the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, with the Duke of Cambridge, now heir to the throne, and the Duke of Sussex also travelling there.

Also at Balmoral are Camilla – the new Queen Consort- and the Countess of Wessex. The King and Queen remained at Balmoral overnight and will return to London on Friday.

What is known is the coffin will be placed on view in the vast, medieval Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster. And it is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of mourners, possibly in timed slots.

As she died in Scotland there could be a second smaller-scale lying in state, most likely in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh did not lie in state in accordance with his wishes. But at that time last year such mass gatherings were against the law because of the Covid pandemic. In the days leading up to the funeral, members of the public will file slowly past.

The closed coffin will be draped in a royal flag, while resting on a catafalque – a raised platform covered with a purple cloth – flanked by a military guard.

Buckingham Palace entry with flowers

Flowers left by mourners outside Buckingham Palace after the announcement of the Queen’s death (Image: PA)

A crown and other regalia are traditionally placed on top of a sovereign’s coffin. It is possible that the Queen’s children or even grandchildren will honour her with a vigil and join the guard at some point – a tradition which has been called the Vigil of the Princes.

This happened for the Queen Mother and King George V. George VI, the Queen’s father, was the last sovereign to lie in state in 1952. On top of his coffin lay the Imperial State Crown, the Orb, and Sceptre from the Crown Jewels.

More than 300,000 people queued day and night in bitter, frosty conditions to say their final goodbyes to the king.

He was laid to rest at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The last person to lie in state was the Queen Mother in 2002. On top of her coffin in Westminster Hall was her coronation crown, set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond, and a message from her daughter, the Queen, reading: “In loving memory, Lilibet”.

An estimated 200,000 people turned out to pay their respects over three days. Security checks resulted in queues across the river with people being warned to expect a wait of up to 12 hours at peak times. There was no lying in state for Princess Diana, who was not an HRH.

The following is expected to take place on Friday – D+0, although concrete plans are yet to be announced by Buckingham Palace.

buckingham palace queen death

Mourning people gathered outside Buckingham Palace following the announcement of the Queen’s death (Image: Getty)

D+0 – Friday September 9

The King and Queen Consort will return to London on Friday and, despite his grief, duty calls for new sovereign Charles who will have his first audience as monarch with Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Charles is likely to meet the Earl Marshal – the Duke of Norfolk – who is in charge of the accession and the Queen’s funeral, to approve the carefully choreographed schedule for the coming days.

The London Bridge arrangements have long been planned in consultation with the Government. They will incorporate Operation Unicorn, the contingency plans for the death of the Queen in Scotland.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Government and the Royal Household prepared a “London minus” version of the London Bridge plans in case it was needed – which is now unlikely – with all the elements but with the involvement of fewer people.

Charles will decide on the length of the court or royal mourning for members of the Royal Family and royal households. It is expected to last a month.

The Government will confirm the length of national mourning, which is likely to be around 12 days, from now up to the day after the Queen’s funeral.

They will also announce that the funeral day will be a public holiday in the form of a Day of National Mourning. Union flags on royal buildings are flying at half-mast.

The Royal Standard never flies half-mast. It represents the Sovereign and the United Kingdom, and is a symbol of the continuation of the monarchy.

If the new King is in residence at a royal palace or castle, the Royal Standard will fly there full-mast as is the tradition. The Union flag does not fly there at the same time.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is in charge of arrangements for lowering flags on government buildings.

Downing Street reportedly expressed concern in the past that the Government would face a wave of public anger if it did not lower its flags within 10 minutes of the announcement of the Queen’s death.

Bells will also toll at Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle. Churches are being urged to toll their bells across England at noon.

Gun salutes – one round for every year of the Queen’s life – will be fired in Hyde Park and at other stations.

The public has already begun to leave flowers as tributes from around the world pour in.

The King will make a televised address to the nation, which he is due to pre-record, in the early evening. He is expected to pay tribute to the Queen and pledge his duty to his service as the new sovereign.

Finally, the Prime Minister and senior ministers will attend a public service of remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London.

mourners buckingham palace

Mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace to honour the Queen (Image: PA)

Queen Elizabeth death: Updates as tributes flood in from around globe

Parliament will be brimming with memories of the Queen as MPs and peers gather to pay tributes in a special session of condolence.

Both Houses are due to sit at 12pm to allow members to pay their respects, with normal politics on hold for a period of mourning.

The tributes, led by Prime Minister Liz Truss, are due to last until 10pm on Friday.

There will also be a rare Saturday sitting, where senior MPs will take an oath of allegiance to the King from 2pm, with condolences continuing again until 10pm.

The latter session will end with a “formal humble address” to the King, “expressing the deep sympathy of the House” following his mother’s death at Balmoral on Thursday, the House of Commons said in a statement.

Every MP will have the option of taking an oath to the King when the House returns but are not obliged to.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will determine the timetable in the House for the following days, but it is expected to be significantly reduced until after the state funeral as Parliament adjourns.

This means new laws cannot be passed until Parliament returns, though it could be recalled for pressing matters.


The nation mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II (Image: Getty)

D+1 – Saturday September 10

The Accession Council meets, traditionally at 10am, at St James’s Palace in London to formally proclaim Charles as the new sovereign.

First, the Privy Council gathers without the King to proclaim the new monarch and arrange business relating to the proclamation.

Then Charles holds his first Privy Council, accompanied by Camilla – the new Queen – and William who are also Privy Counsellors, and makes his personal declaration and oath.

The first public proclamation of the new sovereign is read in the open air from the Friary Court balcony at St James’s Palace by the Garter King of Arms.

Proclamations are made around the city and across the country.

Union flags go back up to full-mast at 1pm and remain there for 24 hours to coincide with the proclamations before returning to half-mast.

Charles will also hold audiences with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

D+2 – Sunday September 11

The Queen’s coffin is expected to be taken by road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Proclamations will be read in the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved parliaments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.


Mourning people gathered outside Buckingham Palace yesterday (Image: Getty)

The Queen’s passing brings uncertain future for Royal Family – COMMENT

D+3 – Monday September 12

A procession is expected along Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral. Service and the Vigil of the Princes by members of the Royal Family.

The House of Commons and the House of Lords are expected to come together in Westminster for a Motion of Condolence, which the King could attend.

After leaving England and visiting Scotland, Charles will at some stage travel to the other countries of the UK – Wales and Northern Ireland – known as Operation Spring Tide.

D+4 – Tuesday September 13

Coffin expected to be flown to London. Expected to be at rest at Buckingham Palace.

A rehearsal for the procession of the coffin from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster takes place.

D+5 – Wednesday September 14

The Queen’s lying in state is expected to begin in Westminster Hall – Operation Marquee – following a ceremonial procession through London. It will last four full days.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct a short service following the coffin’s arrival.

Hundreds of thousands of people will file past the coffin on its catafalque and pay their respects, just as they did for the Queen Mother’s lying in state in 2002.

The management of the queues outside is Operation Feather.

During the Covid-19 crisis, plans included the possibility of the introduction of timed ticketing for those wanting to attend.

Senior royals are also expected to pay their own moving tribute, standing guard at some stage around the coffin – the tradition known as the Vigil of the Princes.

D+6 – Thursday September 15

Lying in state continues and a rehearsal is likely to take place for the state funeral procession.

D+7 – Friday September 16 – Sunday September 18

Lying in state continues, ending on D+9. Heads of state begin to arrive for the funeral.

Buckingham mourning

Hundreds of people gathered outside Buckingham, Palace yesterday (Image: Getty)

Share your memories and stories of the Queen with Express

The Queen was known for her devotion to the nation, but will also be remembered for her quick quips and her colourful fashion sense. Many fans across the nation will be in mourning today and here at Express.co.uk we want to remember the brilliant stories we all have about the Queen.

Click HERE to share you memories and condolences.

mourning queen

The nation mourns the loss of its longest-reigning monarch (Image: Getty)

D+10 – Monday September 19

The Queen’s state funeral is expected to take place at Westminster Abbey in central London.

The original plans are for the Queen’s coffin to process on a gun carriage to the abbey, pulled by naval ratings – sailors – using ropes rather than horses.

Senior members of the family are expected to poignantly follow behind – just like they did for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh. The military will line the streets and also join the procession.

Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, European royals and key figures from public life will be invited to gather in the abbey, which can hold a congregation of 2,000.

The service will be televised, and a national two minutes’ silence is expected to be held.

The same day as the funeral, the Queen’s coffin will be taken to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for a televised committal service.

Later in the evening, there will be a private interment service with senior members of the Royal Family.

The Queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, an annex to the main chapel – where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

Philip’s coffin will move from the Royal Vault to the memorial chapel to join the Queen’s.

Although not confirmed yet, another tradition that could take place is the breaking of the stick, which was seen at King George VI’s funeral and those of British monarchs before him.

When the Queen’s body is placed into the Royal vault, the Lord Chamberlain – a “senior officer of the Royal Household” – will break his white stave of office, marking the end of their service to the late Monarch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog