Royal funerals, like many large royal events, are complex and need to work like a well-oiled machine. They involve input from the Armed Forces, government officials, royal staff, and the Royal Family themselves. It is no small feat.
The most recent funeral is that of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the world’s second-longest-reigning just behind Louis XIV, King of France (72 years and 110 days).
Between the time of the Sovereign’s death and the funeral, official life must carry on. The Prince of Wales became King Charles III the moment the Queen died; however, an Accession Council was necessary for Charles to proclaim his loyalty to the nation and the government recognize him as king. His new position had to be officially proclaimed by the Garter King of Arms and the Queen’s death observed to complete the transition. This occurred at St. James’s Palace, where the new king signed the proclamation paper along with the Queen Consort, Camilla, and the Prince of Wales.
The King and his siblings led mourners as the Queen’s casket was placed in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh (below), after which her body was flown back to London. At left, the Crown of Scotland, which is seen below on the Queen’s coffin during the Lying-in-State at St. Giles Cathedral.
When a monarch or consort dies, there is a Lying-in-State at the Palace of Westminster in London. This gives the public time to pay their respects and observe the coffin over the course of a week (Philip did not have a Lying-in-State in 2021 due to the pandemic).
The monarch’s casket is draped with the Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown, sceptre, and orb are placed on top. The Queen’s children and grandchildren stood vigil around her in the Great Hall in the Palace of Westminster while the coffin rested on the catafalque. After a few days, the coffin is transferred to the great Westminster Abbey in a cortège on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. Royalty and political figures from around the world attend the funeral with the British Royal Family and the United Kingdom’s religious and government officials.
Once the State Funeral is over, the Royal Family may hold a private service away from the glare of cameras and the public. Her Majesty was publicly laid to rest in the Royal Vault in St. George’s Chapel, but it was her wish to be buried with her parents, sister, and husband. During Elizabeth’s private service, she was reinterred in the George VI Memorial Chapel.