Millions to watch as Queen's state funeral takes place in London

Political leaders and heads of state from around the world will be in attendance at Westminster Abbey in London.

Millions to watch coverage as Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral takes place in London Stuart C. Wilson / Stringer via Getty Images

Millions of people will watch on Monday as Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned over the UK for 70 years, is laid to rest following her death aged 96.

The monarch’s funeral takes place at Westminster Abbey in London and will be attended by heads of state and royals from across the world.

Queen Elizabeth died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday, September 8 and her funeral brings to an end ten days of national mourning.

How will today unfold?

Monday is a national bank holiday to allow as many people as possible to watch the Queen’s funeral.

The monarch’s lying-in-state will continue until 6.30am and the coffin will then be taken in a grand military procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey.

Senior members of the family are expected to follow behind – just like they did for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The service will begin at 11am in Westminster Abbey, where the doors will open at 8am for members of the congregation to take their seats.

The Queen’s funeral service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, with the sermon given by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Queen will lie-in-state until 6.30am on Monday.STV News

The Prime Minister and the secretary general of the Commonwealth will read lessons, while the Archbishop of York, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Free Churches moderator will say prayers.

Towards the end of the service, the Last Post will sound, followed by two minutes of silence to be observed in the abbey and around the UK.

Reveille, the national anthem and a lament, played by the Queen’s Piper, will bring the state funeral service to an end at approximately noon.

The service is expected to last one hour in total and then a procession will set off at 12.15pm to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, arriving at 1pm.

After the service, the coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and then travel to Windsor.

Once there, the hearse will travel in procession to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle via the Long Walk, after which a televised committal service will take place in St George’s Chapel.

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.

TV audience of millions

The Queen’s funeral is likely to attract one of the largest UK television audiences of recent decades.

STV’s programming will start at 9.30am and broadcast simultaneously on the main channel and ITV’s five digital channels, as well as on the STV Player and ITV Hub streaming services.

The funeral will also be streamed live on the STV News website and app.

A benchmark for comparison is the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales on September 6, 1997, which was watched by an average of 32.1 million people, including 19.3 million on BBC One and 11.7 million on ITV.

No royal event since then has come close to matching such huge ratings.

Sean Gallup / Staff via Getty Images

The wedding on April 29, 2011, of Prince William and Kate Middleton attracted an average audience of 13.6 million on BBC One and four million on ITV.

Coverage of the funeral of the Queen Mother on April 9, 2002 – a working day – was seen by an average of 5.1 million people on BBC One, while 2.7 million watched on ITV.

Who’s attending?

Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, European royals and key figures from public life have been invited to gather at Westminster Abbey, which can hold a congregation of 2,000.

US president Joe Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron will be among those in attendance.

The leaders of most Commonwealth countries are also expected to attend, with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern having made the nearly 24-hour journey, while her Canadian and Australian counterparts, Justin Trudeau and Anthony Albanese, have also confirmed their attendance.

French president Emmanuel Macron and former prime minister Boris Johnson will be in attendance.Getty Images

Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro are coming, along with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

King Felipe of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia, are among the European royals who will attend.

They will join members of the British royal family, UK prime ministers past and present and key figures from public life.

Downing Street said nearly 200 key workers and volunteers recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June have been invited.

Meanwhile, a senior palace official said heads of state and overseas government representatives, including foreign royal families, governors-general and realm prime ministers, will gather at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and “travel under collective arrangements” to the abbey.

The committal service in St George’s Chapel

A committal service at Windsor Castle will begin at 4pm.

The congregation will be made up of the Queen’s household past and present, including personal staff who work, or who have worked, on the private estates.

The majority of those attending this service, which will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, will not have attended the earlier service at Westminster Abbey.

Before the final hymn, the Imperial State Crown, the orb and the sceptre will be removed from the coffin by the Crown Jeweller and, with the Bargemaster and Serjeants-at-Arms, will be passed to the dean who will place them on the altar.

Committal service will take place at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor Castle.iStock

At the end of the final hymn, the King will place The Queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin.

At the same time, the Lord Chamberlain will “break” his Wand of Office and place it on the coffin.

As the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, the Dean of Windsor will say a psalm and the commendation before the Garter King of Arms will pronounce the styles and titles of the Queen.

The private burial

The Queen will be buried with the Duke of Edinburgh at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

The private burial service will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, and will be attended by the King and members of the royal family.

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