The Queen will be in state at Westminster Hall in London from Wednesday at 5 p.m. until 6.30 a.m. on Monday September 19. Here’s what that means and how you can get involved.
What exactly is meant by the term “in good standing”?
Lying in state is usually reserved for sovereigns, current or past wives of the queen, and sometimes former prime ministers. On the official occasion, the closed coffin is displayed, as thousands line up to parade and pay their respects.
When and where will the queen be in state?
The late monarch lying in state in Westminster Hall opens to the public at 5pm on Wednesday and it will be open 24 hours a day until it closes at 6.30am on Monday September 19 – the day of the Queen’s funeral. Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the parliamentary estate. It dates back to 1099 and has been the scene of key events, such as the trial of Charles I, coronation banquets and speeches by world leaders.
What can people expect?
The closed coffin will be draped with a royal flag, usually a personal standard, and will rest on a raised platform called a catafalque, flanked by a 24-hour military guard. A crown and other regalia are traditionally placed on a sovereign’s coffin. Every corner of the platform is guarded 24 hours a day by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Will the royal family be there?
It is likely that the Queen’s children or even grandchildren will honor her with a wake and join in guarding the coffin at some point – a tradition that has been called the Princes’ Vigil. If the Princess Royal stands guard for the Queen, she will be the first female royal to do so.
Will there be a queue?
Yes. Government guidelines indicate that there will be a queue which is expected to be very long. People will have to stand for “many hours, possibly overnight” with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will continually shift. As large crowds are expected, there are likely to be road closures and public transport delays.
Will security be enhanced?
Visitors will go through airport-style security and there are strict restrictions on what you can take with people only allowed one small bag with a simple opening or zipper.
Should I bring anything?
Official guidelines suggest that people should bring weather-appropriate clothing, food and drink to take away while queuing, a portable power bank for your cellphone and any essential medication. People are also advised to “dress appropriately for the occasion to pay tribute”, banning clothing “with political or offensive slogans”. People will not be allowed to bring flowers or other items of tribute, including candles, stuffed animals and photographs. Banners, flags, baskets, blankets and folding chairs are also prohibited. Government guidelines say people should not film, photograph, use mobile phones or other portable devices in the security search area or inside the Palace of Westminster. Free riders and anyone intoxicated will be removed from the queue by stewards and police patrolling the lines.
Will there be a place to store larger bags?
A left luggage facility is available but capacity is limited and there is no guarantee that there will be space in the facility. Waiting for baggage storage space to become free will increase your waiting time.
Did the Duke of Edinburgh lie?
No, he didn’t, and that was in accordance with his wishes, but his death took place during the Covid-19 crisis and at that time such mass gatherings were also against the law .
Who was the last person to lie in state?
The last person to lie in the UK was the Queen Mother in 2002. Above her coffin in Westminster Hall was her coronation crown, set with the Koh-i-noor diamond, and a handwritten message from her daughter, the queen, reading: “In sweet memory, Lilibet”. Around 200,000 people turned out to pay their respects over three days. It was the first lie in state where members of the public were subjected to security screening, which slowed the movement of mourners. At their longest, queues stretched over Lambeth Bridge and all the way down the South Bank to Southwark Cathedral, with people warned to expect a wait of up to 12 hours at rush hours. Police were mobilized to deal with security, large crowds and road closures.
Where does the tradition come from?
The tradition of custody dates back to the 17th century, when Stuart sovereigns remained in custody for several days. Edward VII established the modern tradition when he moved to Westminster Hall in 1910, as did King George V in 1936 and King George VI in 1952. George VI – the Queen’s father – was the last sovereign to die before Elizabeth II.
Who else was in state at Westminster Hall?
Two prime ministers – William Gladstone in 1898 and Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 – also showed up at Westminster Hall, attracting hundreds of thousands of people.
In 1930 there was an unusual lie in the state of Westminster Hall for the victims of the R101 airship disaster. The experimental British rigid airship caught fire as it passed through northern France, killing 48 of the 54 people on board.