On a solemn day in Britain’s long history, the doors to Westminster Abbey opened at 8am on Monday for the 2,000 people who will attend the Queen’s State Funeral to start arriving.
Grey clouds hung over London as the nation and tens of millions of people around the world prepared to say a final farewell to the UK’s longest serving monarch.
At around 6.30am, the Queen’s lying-in-state in Parliament’s medieval Westminster Hall had been brought to a close.
The last person who had queued for hours to pay their final respects was Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the RAF from Melton Mowbray.
“It felt like a real privilege to do that,” she said.
From 8am onwards the congregation which will fill the ancient abbey could arrive to take their seats.
Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, members of European royal families and key figures from public life including faith leaders were among the 2,000 invited to join the Royal Family in the 13th-Century abbey.
They included US president Joe Biden, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Australia’s Anthony Albanese, as well as French president Emmanuael Macron, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
More than 10,000 police officers were on duty for an unprecedented security operation for the first state funeral since the one held in 1965 for Winston Churchill, the first of 15 prime ministers during the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Early on Monday morning, police officers formed a ring of security, blocking off streets surrounding the Royal Hospital Chelsea where foreign heads of state were gathering to be transported in buses to Westminster Abbey.
Mr Biden was expected to travel is his heavily-armoured “Beast” vehicle.
King Charles on Sunday thanked the nation for the outpouring of support and warmth his family has received as a touching image of the Queen was released in tribute of his late mother.
A minute’s silence was held at 8pm on Sunday, with Prime Minister Liz Truss standing outside Downing Street, as the nation paused to reflect on the eve of Queen’s burial.
It also emerged that Prince George and Princess Charlotte will join their parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, in the abbey.
The funeral will be broadcast live at around 125 cinemas and several cathedrals in the UK, and on a big screen in Hyde Park and other locations around the country.
Tens of millions of people in the UK are expected to watch it on this day which is a Bank Holiday.
Just after 10.35am, a bearer party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, will lift the coffin from a wooden frame and carry it to the Royal Navy’s State Gun Carriage by the North Door of Westminster Hall.
The carriage will depart at 10.44am, drawn by 142 Royal Naval personnel. It will be followed by King Charles, other members of the royal family, the King’s Household and the Household of the Prince of Wales.
The procession will arrive at the West Gate of Westminster Abbey at 10.52am and the coffin will be lifted off the carriage by the bearer party and carried inside.
Before the service, the tenor bell will toll every minute for 96 minutes, reflecting the years of the Queen’s life.
The funeral will begin at 11am.
It will be led by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, and the sermon will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, with a lesson being read by Ms Truss.
At 11.55am, The Last Post will mark the beginning of a national two-minute silence.
The Queen’s Piper will then play Reveille, the national anthem and a lament to bring the service to a close at around 12pm.
The Queen’s coffin will be carried back to the gun carriage before the procession steps off from Westminster Abbey at 12.15pm.
The procession will move through Broad Sanctuary Parliament Square (south and east sides), Parliament Street, Whitehall, Horse Guards including Horse Guards Arch, Horse Guards Road, The Mall, Queen’s Gardens (south and west sides), Constitution Hill and Apsley Way, before arriving at Wellington Arch at 1pm.
The coffin will be lifted off the gun carriage and placed in the state hearse, which will depart for Windsor as the parade gives a royal salute and the national anthem is played.
The King and the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the royal family will depart for Windsor by car.
The hearse will approach Shaw Farm Gate in Albert Road, Windsor, and join the procession, which will have been formed up and in position to step off at 3.10pm.
A committal service will mark the end of public ceremonial arrangements, and will begin at 4pm.
The door of St George’s Chapel will open for the congregation at 3.20pm, with members of the royal family not in the procession arriving for the service at 3.25pm.
The hearse will process along Albert Road, Long Walk, Cambridge Gate, Cambridge Drive, George IV Gate, Quadrangle (south and west sides), Engine Court, Norman Arch, Chapel Hill and the Parade Ground.
The procession, which will have been joined by the King and other family members on the north side of the quadrangle as it passes into Engine Court, will arrive at the West Steps of the chapel in Horseshoe Cloister at 3.53pm.
The bearer party will lift the coffin from the hearse and it will be carried in procession up the steps into St George’s Chapel before the committal service.
The King and members of the royal family will depart from the Galilee Porch for Windsor Castle once the service concludes.
The Dean of Windsor will later conduct a private burial service attended by the King and members of the royal family at 7.30pm.
The Queen, who died on September 8 at the age of 96, will be buried at King George VI Memorial Chapel, and will rest alongside the Duke of Edinburgh.