After more than 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died last week on September 8. Her death marks the end of the second Elizabethan era and the beginning of a period of public mourning for the UK.
That mourning will crescendo at the queen’s funeral next Monday, when the new King Charles III will see his mother formally laid to rest. But the queen was around for so long, and served as such a constant, that there are plenty of questions to be asked about what comes next.
How can we watch the funeral? Will Prince Andrew be allowed to attend? What happens to all the money with the queen’s face on it? What happens to the dogs?
You’ve got questions. We’ve got explanations. Here are 10 questions about the queen’s funeral, answered.
When is the queen’s funeral?
The queen’s funeral will begin on Monday, September 19, at 11 am in the UK, 6 am on the East Coast of the US. It will take place at Westminster Abbey, where the queen married Prince Philip in 1947, and where she was crowned in 1953.
Monday’s ceremony will be the first monarch’s funeral to take place at Westminster Abbey since the 18th century. (The funeral of George VI, Elizabeth’s father, took place at the royal residence of Sandringham House.)
How can I watch the queen’s funeral?
In the UK, the BBC has been livestreaming coverage of the queen’s coffin nonstop and will almost certainly livestream the funeral as well. In the US, NBC News, NBC News Now, CNN, ABC, and Fox News will all be covering the queen’s funeral live.
What will happen at the funeral?
The queen’s funeral will be the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s in 1965, so some of the details are still in question. There simply isn’t any modern precedent for what this kind of event should look like. Here’s what we do know.
The queen’s body is currently lying in state in Westminster Hall, the oldest building in the Houses of Parliament. Her coffin is on display on a raised platform, closed and draped with the Royal Standard and topped with the Imperial State Crown, orb, and scepter, with members of the Royal Guard standing vigil over it. The building is open 24 hours a day until 6:30 am British time on Monday, so that members of the public can file past the coffin and pay their respects. The palace warns that visitors may have to wait in line overnight.
At 10:44 BST on September 19, the queen’s coffin will travel across Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey. As has been the case at the funeral of every British monarch since Queen Victoria, the coffin will be borne on the back of the Royal Navy State Funeral Gun Carriage. It’s likely that senior members of the royal family will follow the coffin in its procession, including the new King Charles III.
The funeral service will happen inside Westminster Abbey, beginning at 11 am BST, 6 am EDT. While confirmed details are few, the BBC reports that the service will probably be conducted by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving the sermon. Prime Minister Liz Truss may also do a reading.
After the ceremony, there will be a walking procession from Westminster Abbey past Buckingham Palace to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner. From there, the queen’s coffin will travel by hearse to Windsor Castle, the queen’s chief residence just outside of London.
The BBC reports that the king and other senior royals will most likely process with the coffin through the grounds of Windsor Castle to St. George’s Chapel, where Harry and Meghan were married in 2018 and where the queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, had his funeral just last year.
Will the queen be buried with Prince Philip?
Yes. The queen will be interred next to her husband in the King George VI memorial chapel of St. George, named after her father.
Who will be at the queen’s funeral?
The palace has not released a formal guest list for the funeral, but reports indicate that around 500 VIP guests are expected, including major world leaders and fellow royals. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have both confirmed they will attend.
Not in attendance: Donald Trump. Traditionally, all living former US presidents would be invited to the funeral of a monarch, but Politico has reported that in this case, only current heads of state and their spouses have been invited, with the palace citing space concerns. According to CNN, the palace has also decided against inviting representatives from Russia, Belarus, and Myanmar.
How long is the mourning period for the queen?
Tradition calls for a 12-day period of national mourning after the death of a monarch. In this case, Charles has requested the mourning period extend until seven days after the queen’s funeral, on September 26.
Technically, not that much has to change for the public during the mourning period. There are official protocols that will be observed by members of the royal family, their staff, and representatives, as well as troops on ceremonial duty, but the most visible thing is that flags at royal residences, government buildings, and military establishments will remain at half-staff until the period of mourning is over.
Per the palace’s guidance, “There is no expectation on the public or organisations to observe specific behaviours during the mourning period and there is no set way for the public to mark the passing of Her Majesty. Individuals, families, communities and organisations will want to mark Her Majesty’s death in their own way.”
However, a number of organizations have chosen to observe the mourning period by shutting down, either for the duration or simply on the day of the queen’s funeral, which has been officially declared a bank holiday. Trade unions called off their planned strikes, and sports teams canceled or postponed their games. Most shops in the UK will likely be closed on the day of the funeral.
Some of these individual shutdowns have raised eyebrows across the internet. The family vacation company Center Parcs briefly announced that all venues would be shut down the day of the queen’s funeral, meaning that guests planning to stay over the 19th would have to leave and then come back the next day. It retracted the policy after waves of outrage. Bicycle racks outside Norwich’s City Hall have been blocked off for mourning, apparently to create space for the grieving public to leave flowers. Nintendo announced that it would drop plans for a Nintendo Direct livestream in the UK, “as a mark of respect.”
More darkly, Wimbledon Food Bank has announced that it will be closed on the day of the queen’s funeral. After public outrage that a food bank would shut down as the cost of living continues to soar, the organization released an official statement noting that it is standard policy to shut down during all bank holidays.
What happened to the queen’s corgis?
The queen was famously fond of her dogs, frequently using them as diplomatic conversation starters and ice breakers. She had a special affinity for corgis, of which she owned more than 30 over her lifetime. Many of them were descended from her first corgi, which she received as an 18th birthday present from her father.
The queen’s last two remaining corgis are now with Prince Andrew, her second son, and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York. Andrew and Sarah continue to live together, and the pair gave the queen the corgis as a gift in 2021 after the death of Prince Philip.
Speaking of Prince Andrew …
What’s the deal with Prince Andrew?
Prince Andrew, Elizabeth’s second son, has remained visible throughout the queen’s death rites, frequently processing with his mother’s coffin as it’s brought from place to place. That’s led to public outrage in some corners, because Andrew has become notorious for his close ties to infamous sex predator Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew has been accused of sexual assault by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked to Andrew while she was a teenager. While Andrew denied the charge, in 2019 he reached an estimated multimillion-dollar out-of-court-settlement with Giuffre. Shortly thereafter, he stepped down from his public duties as a member of the royal family and was stripped of his HRH title (His Royal Highness), as well as his military affiliations and royal patronages. However, reports suggest that both Andrew and the late queen expected that he would eventually be able to return to the fold. A new book by former US attorney Geoffrey Berman says New York prosecutors tried and failed to compel Andrew to cooperate with their investigations into Epstein, and suggests that the royal family gave him cover to dodge them.
“Andrew, you’re a sick old man!” one man cried on September 12 as Andrew processed with the rest of the royal family behind the queen’s coffin down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Onlookers bundled him to the ground, chanting, “God save the King!” to drown out his cries, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. “Powerful men shouldn’t be allowed to commit sexual crimes and get away with it,” the heckler later told reporters.
What’s going to happen to the money with the queen’s face on it?
The queen’s face is on all UK currency, and on multiple pieces of currency in Commonwealth countries. (Charming anecdote from Tina Brown’s Palace Papers: When a friend of Diana’s gave the young princes William and Harry each a 50-pound note, Diana cooed, “Ooh, look, boys, pink grannies!”) Now that she’s dead, when does the money change over to display Charles’s face?
It’s not clear, but it looks like it will take a while. The Bank of England expects it to take about two years to get new Charles notes designed and circulating, and assures the public that money with the queen’s face on it will continue to be legal tender and to circulate. Neither Australia nor Canada has announced a timeline for the changeover, and New Zealand has declared its plans to wait until its current supply of queen coins is exhausted before it introduces new currency.
One big change: While Elizabeth faced to the right on her money, Charles will likely face to the left. It’s been a British tradition to alternate the direction of the monarch on currency since the 17th century.
What happens next?
As soon as the queen died, Charles became king of England, and his wife Camilla became queen consort. (He also inherited the queen’s personal fortune, value unknown, tax-free.) However, Charles has yet to be coronated, meaning he has yet to take an oath to the country and be formally crowned, blessed, and anointed.
At this point, while it’s expected that Charles will be crowned sometime in 2023, we don’t know when the full coronation will take place. If historical precedent is any guide, it could be quite a while away. The queen’s coronation did not take place until 16 months after the death of her father.
What we do know: Charles’s coronation is being planned under the code name Operation Golden Orb. It will take place in Westminster Abbey, where all English coronations have taken place since 1066. Authorities have confirmed that the Stone of Destiny, on which Scottish monarchs are crowned, will be brought to England for the occasion. (The British government returned the stone to Scotland in 1996, after England took it in 1296.) Camilla will be crowned queen consort alongside Charles.
Experts speculate that Charles, who has long advocated for a “slimmed-down” monarchy, may call for a less ornate coronation than the one his mother experienced. It’s widely expected that although the coronation is an Anglican religious rite, Charles’s ceremony will be more multi-faith and inclusive than traditional, in celebration of a multi-faith Britain.
But to find out, we’ll have to wait until next year. Before the new king can be crowned, the world will be mourning the old queen.