London is readying itself for an event that the majority of Londoners haven't witnessed before — the funeral of a British monarch. Whether you're planning to attend the lying-in-state or be near the funeral of Elizabeth II, or if you just want to know what London's going to look like on the bank holiday of Monday 19 September — here's our guide to what's going on.
When does the Queen's coffin come to London? Can I see the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall?
The Queen's coffin will be flown in from Edinburgh to RAF Northolt in north London at 6pm on Wednesday 13 September. From here, it'll travel to Buckingham Palace, in scenes similar to those from the weekend, when the funeral cortege travelled from Balmoral to Edinburgh. This is the final stage of Operation Unicorn.
On arriving at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's coffin will be placed in the Bow Room overnight. Then on the afternoon of Wednesday 14 September, the coffin will be processed on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, to Westminster Hall, in the Palace of Westminster. The short procession route will travel via Queen's Gardens, The Mall, Horse Guards and Horse Guards Arch, Whitehall, Parliament Street, Parliament Square and New Palace Yard. There's a rumour the procession will involve corgis.
The Queen will lie in state in the 11th century Westminster Hall, from 5pm on Wednesday 14 September, until 6.30am on the morning of the funeral (19 September). The public can pay their respects any time of the day or night during these times. Queues are expected to be long: some 750,000 are predicted to attend. The last person to lie in state here was the Queen's mother, in 2002. Winston Churchill got the same treatment in 1965.
What happens in London on the day of the Queen's funeral — Monday 19 September?
As the lying-in-state comes to an end in the early hours of Monday 19 September, we expect crowds will have already amassed around Westminster. Big Ben — the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower, itself named after the late Queen — will sound with muffled chimes at 9am.
The funeral takes place at Westminster Abbey at 11am. This is, of course, where Elizabeth was crowned back in 1953 — and also where she got married to Philip in 1947. The last royal funeral to take place here was in 1925, for Queen Alexandra. Before that, it was George II in 1760.
A one minute silence will occur as the Queen's coffin enters the Abbey. Some 2,000 guests have been invited to the funeral, including many heads of state. Security will be pretty serious.
Obviously, the public won't be able to go inside Westminster Abbey for the funeral, but we expect thousands to amass outside it, nearby, and along The Mall. We're not as yet aware of any big screens being set up (as they were were Diana's funeral, at Hyde Park), although we'd expect this to be the case, and will update this article with further information.
Following the hour-long funeral, the Queen's coffin will be carried to the Wellington Arch near Hyde Park Corner. This procession will travel up The Mall, which will be thick with people paying their respects.
From the Wellington Arch, the Queen's coffin will travel on to Windsor, where the monarch will be buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
Of course, the funeral will be televised, on numerous channels.
Bank holiday in London: public transport and closures
Monday 19 September, the day of the Queen's funeral, will be a bank holiday for the entire United Kingdom. It's expected most events will be postponed or cancelled, and most museums, galleries and attractions will be closed. Shops will be closed, or operate bank holiday hours. Most pubs, we think, will be open — but the obvious advice is to check ahead before heading anywhere.
We can expect significant road closures in central London on the day of the funeral — notably in central Westminster, and around Buckingham Palace, Green Park and St James's Park. We're advised to avoid going near these areas by car in the lead up to, and aftermath of, the funeral.
Public transport will continue as usual in the lead-up to, and on the day of, the funeral. Of course, a LOT of people are going to be using the trains, tubes and buses. TfL has outlined advice for those getting around central London during the mourning period, the main takeaway is: go by foot wherever possible. Here's a very handy map of walking times between tube stations.
Floral tributes to the Queen in London: Green Park, Buckingham Palace and elsewhere
With echoes of the death of Diana in 1997, thousands upon thousands have already left floral tributes to the Queen outside Buckingham Palace, and in adjacent Green Park, as well as St James's Park and Hyde Park. Most floral tributes have now been moved away from the front of the palace.
The Royal Parks, which oversees these greens spaces, has now requested that any floral tributes placed in Green Park be taken out of their plastic wrapping before being laid. Wardens were doing a pretty comprehensive job at enforcing this, on our visit. It's also requested that teddy bears (i.e. Paddingtons), balloons and candles are not permitted.