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What is the dress code for the state union funeral?

Royal families, world leaders and friends of the Queen have begun their travels from across the globe, and will gather in London on Monday for the late Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral.

The sombre event marks the first royal state funeral since 1952, which was for the Queen’s father King George VI. The last took place in 1965, when one was held for Winston Churchill.

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Joining the British Royal family in paying their respects will be a host of international guests set to jet in for what is expected to be the largest ceremonial procession in UK. King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain will join Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan alongside other royals from across Europe representing the likes of Monaco, Denmark, Norway Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Heads of state, from Joe Biden to New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron will join the UK’s own host of former prime ministers who have confirmed their attendance. They will be joined by recipients of the Victoria Cross or George Cross, who are also invited.

The funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

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As is expected, there are dress codes in place and high expectations for all those attending to hit the correct sartorial tone.

Debretts, the 1769 founded publisher of etiquette and behaviour, has a dedicated section of the website detailing what is to be expected.

“Custom dictates the Royal Family adheres to a strict dress code at state funerals. An all black dress code is always respected,” it reads.

“Ladies wear black knee length dresses, or coats, black hats, and may also wear face-covering veils.” Catherine, the new Princess of Wales demonstrated the expected style with elegance at the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in April 2021.

The funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

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“Traditionally, gentlemen wear military attire or, as was the case at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, black mourning coats with medals.”

The latter has been a point of contention in regard to Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, who are both no longer working royals and therefore should not be permitted to attend in military dress.

An exception has been made for The Duke of York, however, who has been cleared to wear military uniform at the lying-in-state vigil as a “special mark of respect.” The Duke of Sussex has not, and will wear civilian dress.  

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