Ok so here’s what it means for the Queen to lie in state, and how you can visit her coffin
It will be open to the public for 24 hours a day until her funeral
Queen Elizabeth II passed away last Thursday at the age of 96. Her death triggered a series of events and a lot of planning and organisation to prepare for her funeral – now announced for Monday 19th September and officially declared a Bank Holiday. Before the funeral, though, the Queen is due to ‘lie in state’, which means that her coffin will be open to the public to view up until her funeral. Here’s everything you need to know about what it means to lie in state and what the visiting process will be like.
Okay, so what’s ‘lying in state’?
Lying in state is when the recently deceased monarch or head of state’s coffin is available for public view. It’s a traditional process that allows the public to queue up and walk past and pay their respects before the funeral. It’s a tradition that’s gone on since the 17th century.
When does the Queen start lying in state and where will her coffin be?
Queen Elizabeth’s coffin will lie in state from 5pm on Wednesday (14th September) in Westminster Hall – the same place where King Charles III addressed all members of parliament today. She will stay there for the public to pay their respects until 6.30am on the day of her funeral – Monday 19th September.
What will it be like and will the coffin be closed?
The Queen’s coffin will be on a raised plinth called a catafalque and closed shut with a flag over it. She will be guarded at all times, with the Sovereign Bodyguard watching over it 24 hours a day. On the top of the coffin alongside the flag will be some of her personal memorabilia, such as her crown.
There’s also a tradition known as Vigil of the Princes, where the Queen’s children will join the guard to take watch over her coffin at some point. So you might see a royal doing so if you decide to go and see the Queen lying in state.
What will queues and security be like?
Big and heavy, as you would imagine. The death of the Queen is an unprecedented event for most of the country and the first time any of us have experienced national mourning like this, so there’s an expectation that a huge crowd and turnout will be there to pay respects or just to witness a huge historical moment. The official guidance that has been released has told queuers to expect to be “waiting for many hours, possibly overnight.” The queue will constantly be moving as people file past her coffin, so there’ll be no chance to sit down.
There will be thorough security at airport-level tightness. You are only allowed to bring one small bag. Official guidance advises that if you are going to go, bring food and drink and appropriate clothing for the queue. The last time anyone was lying in state was when the Queen Mother died in 2002. 200,000 people filed past her – and for the Queen they are anticipating up to 750,000.
Crowds are advised to bring a power bank for mobile phones, and clothing with offensive slogans on or political messages will not be allowed. People will not be allowed to bring flowers or any other tributes, including candles, soft toys, and photographs. Also banned are banners, flags, hampers, blankets and folding chairs.
Recording on phones isn’t allowed, and if you were thinking of swinging by the Queen’s coffin after a sesh on the weekend, you might not want to bother: Police patrol the queue and kick out anyone they deem to be drunk.
Who else has lied in state?
Prince Philip did not lie in state when he passed away last year, and this was due to his own personal choice and also the fact that we were all still in the midst of Covid. The last time someone was lying in state was the Queen Mother in 2002. Winston Churchill also had a state funeral and lied in state. The Queen will be the first lie in state ceremony in 20 years.
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Featured image via SWNS.