Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral is her ‘final act as head of state’: What to expect from the ‘formal ceremony’
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Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey in London on Sept. 19.
Queen Elizabeth died on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with members of the royal family by her side. Her Majesty’s death was announced hours after Buckingham Palace revealed she had been put under medical supervision.
The queen began lying in state at Westminster Hall on Wednesday after lying in state in Scotland first. Mourners were able to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II through the early morning hours of Sept. 19.
On the day of the funeral, the queen’s coffin will be transferred to Westminster Abbey in a formal procession. King Charles III, along with other members of the royal family, will follow on foot. The funeral ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey and will be attended by approximately 2,000 guests, including heads of state and other foreign dignitaries.
The funeral will be followed by a committal service in St. George’s Chapel with an attendance of 800 guests.
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Here’s what to expect from Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral:
Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will be an ‘extremely formal ceremony’
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral won’t resemble a typical “family funeral,” a royal expert told Fox News Digital.
“All the royals always seem to walk according to rank within the royal family. So it’s not going to feel so much like a family funeral. It’s going to look like an extremely formal ceremony,” Duncan Larcombe, royal author and Fox News royal contributor , said. “And, of course, ultimately after that, on Monday, the Queen’s body will be laid to rest over at Windsor, which is her home rather than Buckingham Palace, which was her office and that will give the royals a chance to have their own send off.”
Adding to the “formal ceremony” feel, members of the royal family will likely be in their military uniforms.
“People might be surprised to see the Royals will all be dressed up as top military leaders, but the reason for that is the link between the royal family and the military in Britain is enormous,” Larcombe told Fox News Digital. “People fight and die for Queen, King and Country. So all the working royals have got their own military regiment. For example, Prince William will be dressed as the Colonel in Chief of the Irish Guards. And that’s the uniform he got married in .”
It has been reported that Prince Andrew will wear his military uniform for the state funeral, but Prince Harry will not. The Duke of York served in the royal Navy while the Duke of Sussex served 10 years in the British Army.
“But Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, ironically, are the only two members of the royal family taking part, as far as we know, who earned their medals in the field of battle,” Fox News Digital’s royal expert added. “The other medals that you’ll see on display from the royals are all ceremonial ones given to them by the Queen for things like various jubilees or special occasions.”
The royal family will participate in their own private service for Queen Elizabeth II after Monday’s formal events have concluded.
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‘Muted, Modest and Respectful’
Outside the royal family, the style for guests will be “muted, modest and respectful,” according to Miranda Holder, royal and celebrity fashion expert.
“This somber occasion is not ‘an event’ at which one would look to cause a style sensation, but rather all fashion-forward outfits will be safely relegated away in the Royal wardrobes until happier times,” she told Fox News Digital.
The women of the royal family will be wearing black from head to toe, Holder explained.
“There are many fashion protocols which a working royal has to adhere to, and despite many of them appearing somewhat outdated in today’s society, the funeral of Her Majesty would not be the time to break them,” she noted. “The cardinal rule is simply not to upstage the queen. Hemlines and necklines, routinely checked, will be more austere than ever, hosiery, already an etiquette requirement (despite having been broken by both Kate and Meghan on previous occasions), is imperative and must also be black. Hats being required on such a formal occasion.”
In terms of jewelry, Holder expects the royal women to be wearing “sentimental heirlooms” gifted to them by Queen Elizabeth II and “worn with love.”
“Throughout her own life, the queen was the ultimate diplomatic dresser, making those around her feel validated through token gestures incorporated into her outfit,” Holder told Fox News Digital. “Now, in turn, she herself will be honored through similar subtle tributes from her loving family.”
The jewelry most likely will be pearls, a gemstone loved by Her Majesty. Kate Middleton was spotted wearing Queen Elizabeth II’s pearl and diamond brooch during the procession of the coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.
“Ever since her reign, pearls have been the jewelry of choice to wear not only to funerals but also to daytime events,” Holder said. “This seems beautifully fitting for Her Majesty’s funeral, as she adored pearls and owned several necklaces, one a gift from her late father, King George VI.”
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The state funeral ‘pageantry’ is a ‘diplomatic tool’ for the royal family
Not only will Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony be formal, the royal family’s behavior will likely be formal as well but with a touch of emotion.
“Normally, I would say we wouldn’t see crying and touching, but Princess Anne was crying in Edinburgh and was comforted by a pat on the back by her sister-in-law,” royal expert Shannon Felton Spence told Fox News Digital.
She noted there will likely be no hand-holding between King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla. However, do expect “curtsying and bowing.”
“Basically, everyone will bow and curtsy to whomever is above their rank, up to the King,” Spence added. “We could even see the President bow to the King! Whatever would be the normal diplomatic protocol will apply here. Will be exactly the same as if they were meeting on a state visit.”
The royal expert emphasized that the state funeral isn’t for Queen Elizabeth, but for the United Kingdom.
“I think the important thing to remember about Monday, and about the whole week really, is that it’s not for the family, it’s not even really for Her Majesty. It’s for the country,” Spence explained to Fox News Digital. “The pageantry is a diplomatic tool. Will and Kate’s wedding was pageantry. The Abbey was filled with royal families and heads of state from across the world. This will be the same. This is the Queen’s final act as head of state.”
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Queen Elizabeth II’s lasting legacy
When she died, Queen Elizabeth was the most widely traveled British head of state and the longest-married British monarch. She had ruled for longer than any other monarch in British history, becoming a much-loved and respected figure during her decades-long reign. She reached the milestone of 70 years on the throne on Feb. 6, 2022, celebrating with the Platinum Jubilee in June to mark the occasion.
Larcombe noted that the United Kingdom’s love for Her Majesty is notably one of her “biggest achievements.”
“There is something quite majestic and almost mystical about the fact that the British royal family not only still exists, but they appear to still be incredibly loved and incredibly relevant to British society,” he told Fox News Digital. “And no one could have really predicted that. I mean, that’s possibly one of the biggest achievements for Queen Elizabeth at this stage.”
Fox News Digital’s Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.