LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flock to London’s medieval Westminster Hall from Wednesday to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth IIwhose coffin will remain in state for four days until his funeral on Monday.
Here’s a look at what to expect for the occasion, including its traditions, the waiting journey, and what mourners will see:
HOW LONG DOES THE QUEEN REMAIN IN STATE?
Those wishing to view the Queen’s coffin can do so 24 hours a day from 5:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday until 6:30 a.m. on Monday, the day of the state funeral.
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SEE?
The closed coffin is draped with the Royal Standard, a flag representing the sovereign and the United Kingdom. It is adorned with royal regalia including the orb, scepter and jeweled Imperial Crown – the same as the Queen wore for her coronation in 1953.
The coffin is placed on a catafalque, or raised platform, in the center of Westminster Hall. Royal guards in feathered hats and ceremonial uniforms will stand 24 hours a day at each corner of the platform.
When the coffin was in Scotland earlier this week, it was topped with the Crown of Scotland and a wreath of white flowers.
The Queen’s coffin is constructed from English oak, lined with lead and was made decades ago, experts say.
Sarah Hayes, director of the Coffin Works museum in Birmingham, England, said former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Queen’s husband Prince Philip and Princess Diana had such coffins made for them, a- she declared.
“It’s about preserving the body for as long as possible, it’s really about slowing down the process of decay,” she said. This is particularly important for the Queen as her coffin will eventually be placed in a church, and not buried in the ground, she added.
The coffin is made of oak from the royal family’s Sandringham estate according to royal tradition, Hayes said.
UK authorities have published two queuing routes along the River Thames that the public must join before they can enter Westminster Hall. The main queue starts on the Albert Embankment and stretches east for miles past the London Eye, Tate Modern and Tower Bridge. There is a separate, accessible route that people who need it can join from the Tate Britain museum.
Mourners have been warned of the long waits, possibly overnight. Hundreds of additional toilets and water fountains will be placed along the route, and some sites along the way, including Shakespeare’s Globe, will be open 24 hours a day to provide refreshments and breaks. Airport-style security checks are in place near the start of the line before people can enter Parliament.
The induction ceremony takes place in Westminster Hall, a 900-year-old building with an impressive wooden roof. Built in 1097, it is the oldest building in the Palace of Westminster.
The Medieval Hall has been at the heart of British history for a millennium: it’s where many kings and queens held lavish coronation banquets, and where Guy Fawkes and Charles I were judged in the 17th century. More recently, ceremonial addresses were given in the hall to Elizabeth on her Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilees.
WHO CAN LIE IN STATE?
In the UK, lying in state is reserved for the sovereign, queen consorts and sometimes prime ministers.
Queen Mary, King George VI and King George V were among the royals who were in state at Westminster Hall. Winston Churchill was the only British Prime Minister to hold an enthronement ceremony in the 20th century.
The last person to lie in Britain was Elizabeth’s mother, known as the Queen Mother. Some 200,000 people paid their respects for three days when she died in 2002.
WHEN DID THE TRADITION START?
The tradition of lying in state dates back to the 17th century when Stuart monarchs remained in state for several days.
Edward VII established the modern tradition of royal lying in Westminster Hall. It lay in state in 1910.
WHERE IS THE QUEEN’S LAST STAY?
After the state funeral, the coffin will be transported to Windsor, about 32 kilometers west of London. The Queen will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where her mother and father were buried and where the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret, were placed.
Prince Philip’s coffin, which is currently in the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel, is expected to be moved to the Memorial Chapel to join that of the Queen.
St. George’s is where many members of the British Royal Family have been baptized, married and buried throughout history. It has long been the resting place of the royal family and 10 former rulers have been buried here.
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