LONDON – The British capital city is poised to host hundreds of thousands of travelers and some of the world’s most influential people in anticipation of Queen Elizabeth II’s historic state funeral next week.
The funeral ceremony, set to take place at Westminster Abbey on September 19, will bring together a diverse group of royals and politicians, including U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Emperor Naruhito. All of them will unite to pay tribute to Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who died last Thursday at the age of 96 of unspecified causes.
The funeral day will be a bank holiday, and an unprecedented crowd of 750,000 travelers is expected to gather at the Abbey to witness her majesty’s procession. The church hosted the Queen’s marriage to Prince Philip in 1947 and her coronation in 1953.
The funeral will begin with the queen’s coffin being carried from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. Following the service, the coffin will be drawn in a walking procession to Wellington Arch, at London’s Hyde Park Corner, before reaching its destination at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
British officials have warned that the guest list will be extremely limited.
The White House confirmed Sunday that President Joe Biden will attend with the first lady, but won’t bring a delegation with him. “Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world,” Biden said in a statement praising the queen’s diplomacy.
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) said in documents obtained by Politico that it “regrets that, because of limited space at the state funeral service and associated events, no other members of the principal guest’s family, staff or entourage may be admitted.” Strict protocols and regulations will also be in place for foreign dignitaries, and private flights, and the use of helicopter transport from London-Heathrow airport will not be permitted.
According to the guidance, Politico reported, heads of state should plan to arrive at other London airports if the use of commercial flights is unfeasible. To “reduce disruption and transit time at airports,” the rules continue, accompanying delegations should be kept “as small as possible.”
These restrictions will extend to London’s streets, as international leaders will not be allowed to travel to the funeral in their own private vehicles. Instead, they will meet at a separate location where they will be provided with coach transport.
Visiting diplomats will not be provided any “Autocue or makeup facilities.”
In addition to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the late Queen’s grandchildren, Prince William, and Prince Harry, will be present at the event.
Other European monarchs set to attend include members of the royal families of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The U.K.’s newly inaugurated prime minister, Liz Truss, is expected to make an appearance along with the British Labour party leader, Keir Starmer. Truss, who became British prime minister earlier this month, met with the queen mere days before her death.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, and Japan’s Emperor Naruhito are all scheduled to pay their respects.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is expected to host a reception for these distinguished guests following the Westminster Abbey ceremony.