The first state funeral in nearly 60 years is being held on Monday 19 September, to mark the passing of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
It’s also the first royal state funeral in 70 years, and understandably the rules are a little different to your traditional funeral.
The etiquette is clear and long-standing. Some 2,200 guests will have to observe it, including 500 heads of state and their plus ones, as well as the Queen’s friends, staff, British politicians and those she honoured with medals for their service.
But most importantly, the British Royal Family will be attending as the Queen’s next of kin. All eyes are set to be on the family as they pay respects to the woman who was not only their Queen, but also the beloved head of their family.
There has been much discussion about what each member of the family will wear, as certain rules differ to those imposed on usual guests. From the permissions around military uniforms to skirt lengths, here are all the rules that will define how the family chooses to dress on Monday.
Black is not just expected, it is mandatory
Black has been the traditional colour for mourning since the Roman times, when people would opt for a darker coloured toga to show they were in mourning.
But black became an even more significant symbol of mourning in Britain after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. The monarch was so heartbroken that she vowed to wear nothing but black for the rest of her life. And she did just that – for 40 years.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is when it became not just custom but “social requisite” to don the colour following the death of a loved one, but especially a monarch.
In fact, the rule is taken so seriously in the Royal Family that
Military uniform will be worn – even by Andrew and Harry
Royals who completed military service or recieved honorific medals will wear military uniform to the service, as was seen with certain members of the family at the Queen’s procession on Wednesday 14 September.
It was initially believed that neither Harry nor Andrew would be permitted to wear their military uniforms as both have stepped back from royal duties – Harry after renouncing his title to move to America with his wife, and Andrew, after becoming embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal.
But a shock announcement came when it transpired Andrew would indeed be permitted to wear a military uniform to the funeral – and Harry would not. The Duke of Sussex’s spokesperson hit back at this, saying: “Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex will wear a morning suit throughout events honouring his grandmother.”
“His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”
This all changed today, Friday 16 September, though, as royal sources have confirmed that Harry will be donning the military garb for the funeral, just like the rest of his family.
Women of the family must wear black veils
Unless they are dressed in military uniform, like The Princess Royal, women who are part of the Royal Family will be expected to include a black veil as part of their outfit.
They will also be required to wear a knee-length skirt as part of their all black outfit, as is standard modern practice for women attending royal occasions.
The black veil doesn’t have to be a long, tulle accessory like a traditional wedding veil, though a veil is also required when getting married as part of the Royal Family.
The funeral veil can instead partially cover the face, and be made from a net material to allow visibility, but still a fraction more privacy than going veil-less.
Members of the Royal Family who attended Prince Philip’s funeral wore these veils, and will likely opt for a similar style for Monday’s proceedings.