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Queen's funeral set to be grand ceremony

BY: Mary Mensah
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II is likely to be one of the grandest ceremonies ever seen in the British capital, involving thousands from the military and with details overseen by the monarch before her death.

Presidents, Prime Ministers and royalty from around the world will gather on Monday for the funeral for Elizabeth, queen for 70 years, whose global stature was almost without equal.

About 500 foreign dignitaries are expected to attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral in London, with invitations having been sent to the heads of state of most countries with which Britain has diplomatic relations.

Apart from President Joe Biden, other dignitaries attending Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral have been advised by the British government not to take private transportation to London next week and told they will be escorted to the service in buses.

Royal attendees

The Royal attendees are Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain; King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Juan Carlos I, former King of Spain; and his wife Sofia.

The rest are Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary; King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden and King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway among others.

National leaders

National Leaders attending are the President and First Lady of the United States, Joe Biden and Jill Biden; the President of France, Emmanuel Macron; the President of India, Droupadi Murmu; the President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen; the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, and the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

The others are the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda; the Sri Lankan President, Ranil Wickremesinghe; the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier; the South Korean President, Yoon Suk-yeol; the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda; the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

The rest of leaders

The rest are the President of European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; the President of the European Council, Charles Michel; the President of Latvia, Egils Levits; the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula-Mae Weekes; the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto.

The remaining are the Hungarian President, Katalin Novak; the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins; the Prime Minister of Ireland, Micheál Martin Taoiseach; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness; the Governor General of Belize, Floyla Tzalam; the Governor General of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Susan Dougan, and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina among .

Countries not invited are Russia, Myanmar, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan.

After the lying in state ends early on Monday morning, the coffin will be carried onto the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy where 142 naval service personnel will pull it to Westminster Abbey, the same church where Elizabeth was crowned in 1953, for the funeral.

The service will begin at 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) and last about an hour. At its conclusion, the Last Post will sound and there will be a two-minute silence to be observed by the nation.

The body will then be taken on the gun carriage in a large procession, with King Charles and members of the Royal Family walking behind, from the Abbey to the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner. Guns will fire and Parliament's Big Ben bell will toll every minute.

Windsor castle

The state hearse will then convey the coffin to Windsor Castle where there will be a further solemn procession before a service at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel.

In a later private ceremony, Elizabeth will be buried with Philip at the King George VI Memorial Chapel where her parents and sister, Princess Margaret, were also laid to rest.

King Charles will hold an official state event on Sunday to meet the dignitaries who are attending. Asked how the new monarch was bearing up, his spokesperson replied: "I think people who've worked with the king know just how resilient and hardworking he is."

Prime Minister Liz Truss was expected to hold one-on-one talks with Biden and other leaders on the sidelines of the funeral but officials have said any such meetings will be informal.
Elizabeth's body was brought to London on Tuesday from Scotland where it had remained since her death last week at her Scottish summer home Balmoral Castle.

Her coffin now lies in the centre of Westminster Hall on a purple catafalque placed on a red platform. It was covered by the Royal Standard flag and topped with the Imperial State Crown placed on a cushion, alongside a wreath of flowers.

Soldiers and 'Beefeaters' - the red-coated warders usually found guarding the Tower of London - stand constant vigil with bowed heads.

King Charles III

The death of Queen Elizabeth II placed her eldest son, now King Charles III, on the throne. He became king because he was first in the royal line of succession, a snaking lineage that weaves through the generations of a thousand-year-old institution’s family tree.

The now former Prince of Wales born in 1948 married Lady Diana Spencer, who became the Princess of Wales, on July 29, 1981. The couple had two sons, William and Harry. They later separated and their marriage was dissolved in 1996.

On August 31, 1997, the princess was killed in a car crash in Paris. He married Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9, 2005. When Charles became King, she became Queen Consort, as per the wishes of Queen Elizabeth II.