Britain prepares for state funeral and final farewell to queen

The 2,000 strong congregation will include world leaders, royalty, representatives from charity and those who made ‘extraordinary contributions’ in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public viewing of the lying-in-state will end early on Monday morning and her state funeral will begin a few hours later [Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool via Reuters]

Britain is preparing to bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth in a grand state funeral, after King Charles III said he had been “moved beyond measure” by the outpouring of public sympathy following her death.

Dozens of world leaders and royalty from Europe to Lesotho and Japan will be among the 2,000 people attending Monday’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in central London.

United States President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan joined those paying respects to Britain’s longest-serving monarch during the last day of the official lying-in-state at the 900-year-old Westminster Hall.

Biden described her as “decent, honourable, and all about service”.

“You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years. We all were,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of people had queued for hours to file past the oak coffin, draped in the royal standard and with the Imperial Crown, orb and sceptre, lying on top, during the four days it lay in state. The estimated waiting time peaked at more than 25 hours early on Saturday, and was eventually closed to newcomers on Sunday. The public viewing will end at 6.30am (05:30 GMT).

King Charles said that he and his wife Queen Consort Camilla had been “so deeply touched” by messages of condolence and support from Britain and around the world.

The UK held a minute’s silence on Sunday night in honour of the queen who died on September 8 [Martin Meissner/AP Photo]

The country held a minute’s silence on Sunday in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

“We were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother, The late Queen,” he said in a statement.

The state funeral will begin shortly before 11am (10:00 GMT), when the queen’s coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and pulled by pulled by 142 Royal Navy sailors to the abbey, the finale of 10 days of national mourning for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

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