Your questions about the Queen's funeral answered

Ahead of Queen Elizabeth's funeral at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19, we answer your questions about what to expect from the service, which high-profile guests will attend and what will happen afterward.

Royal Family, world leaders will attend service inside Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19

King Charles and his siblings hold a vigil around Queen Elizabeth's casket at St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday. Her coffin was flown to London on Tuesday, and it will lie in state for four days ahead of her funeral on Sept. 19. (Jane Barlow/Reuters)

As the Royal Family and the U.K. government finalize plans for Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Sept. 19, her coffin arrived in London on Tuesday. Up to a million Britons and other royal fans from around the world are expected to line up at Westminster Hall and say farewell to Britain's longest-reigning monarch this week.

We're answering your questions about what to watch for in the coming days — and how to be a part of remembering the Queen.

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What happens while the Queen is lying in state? 

From Wednesday until Monday, the Queen's closed coffin will rest on a raised platform inside the U.K. Parliament's Westminster Hall. 

The public can visit 24 hours a day to pay their respects, and thousands of people are lining up for kilometres along the River Thames. The U.K. government has a queue tracker so people can see how long the line is, and where to find the back of the queue.

At 7:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET) on Friday, King Charles and his siblings, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, will stand vigil at their mother's coffin for 15 minutes, Buckingham Palace officials announced on Thursday.

The British government says those hoping to pay their respects will face "airport-style security," and the lengthy list of rules also includes bans on taking photos, wearing clothing with political slogans or leaving flowers or other tributes. 

What's special about the Queen's casket?

The Queen's English oak coffin was constructed some 30 years ago, alongside a coffin for her late husband, Prince Philip, London undertakers Leverton & Sons told The Times in 2018.

Following a centuries-old tradition for royals, the Queen's coffin is lined with lead, which helps prevent a body from decomposing for longer. The lead also makes the coffin significantly heavier, meaning eight pallbearers will be needed to carry it

While lying in state, it will be draped with the Royal Standard flag, with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign's orb and sceptre laid on top.

What will happen during the funeral?

The Queen's state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday. It will be the first time a monarch's funeral has been held there since 1760, although funerals for the Queen Mother and Princess Diana took place inside the abbey in 2002 and 1997, respectively.

Queen Elizabeth's funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19. It will be the first time a monarch's funeral has been held in the abbey since 1760. This photo inside the abbey was taken on Nov. 23, 2010. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

At 10:44 a.m. local time (5:44 a.m. ET), the coffin's procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey will begin. It will be transported on a gun carriage pulled by navy sailors, with senior members of the Royal Family expected to follow on foot.

The funeral service will begin at 6 a.m. ET and last an hour. Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm whether the Queen made any special requests, but it gave more details about the service on Thursday, announcing that it would be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, and British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland would give readings, alongside prayers from a number of church leaders.

"I'm expecting a grandchild will say something, maybe a poem, something that will personalize it a little bit," royal commentator Bonnie Brownlee said. "We could expect some surprises if they decide to switch it up a little bit, like maybe one or two things that are quite emotional in the service, but ... I think they'll leave a lot of that to only the family to know [in advance]."

It will be the first time the public has been able to watch a monarch's funeral service. Although King George VI's funeral procession in 1952 was televised, cameras were excluded from the service itself.

The coffin of King George VI lies in state at Westminster Hall on Feb. 11, 1952. Parts of his funeral were televised — the first time a royal's funeral was shown on TV — but not the service itself. (Intercontinentale/AFP/Getty Images)

"We're going to be seeing rituals televised for the first time that go back to the Tudors and the Stuarts of the 1500s and 1600s," Justin Vovk, a royal history expert and PhD candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., said.

"[The royals] want this sense of a continuing institution that is unchanged over the passage of time in terms of stability, and that is something that having consistent rituals at a funeral does."

Who will attend the funeral?

Members of the Royal Family and dignitaries from around the world will be there, although it's not clear whether the Queen's youngest great-grandchildren will attend. As Westminster Abbey has a maximum capacity of 2,200, the government has told other countries that only their leader, plus their spouse or another dignitary, may attend.

Ralph Goodale, Canada's high commissioner to the U.K., told The Canadian Press that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon would attend. U.S. President Joe Biden will be at the funeral with his wife, Jill, while the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand will be accompanied by their countries' governors general.

Recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross, as well as U.K. politicians, church leaders and nearly 200 people recognized in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours will also be there, Buckingham Palace said Thursday.

Foreign royals, politicians and other VIPs have been asked to take commercial flights instead of private jets and were told they will be put on buses to Westminster Abbey, according to documents reported by Politico, although it's not clear how many dignitaries will follow those requests. A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Liz Truss told The Guardian that "arrangements for different leaders will vary."

Where will the Queen be buried?

Following Monday's funeral, another procession will take the Queen's coffin from Westminster Abbey to St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where she will be buried in the King George VI memorial chapel alongside her parents, her sister, Princess Margaret, and husband Prince Philip, during a private service for Royal Family members.

The Queen Mother's funeral cortege is seen outside Windsor Castle on April 9, 2002, before she was interred at St. George's Chapel. Queen Elizabeth's funeral procession will follow the same route Sept. 19. (Darren Staples/AFP/Getty Images)

But the public will get to see part of the ritual unfold ahead of that service.

At 11 a.m. ET, the Dean of Windsor will conduct a committal service. Before the final hymn, the crown, orb and sceptre will be removed from the coffin, and King Charles will place another flag — the Queen's Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards — on it.

he Dean of Windsor will read a psalm as the coffin is lowered into the vault, and the Queen's many titles will be read, followed by a piper's lament, a blessing, and the U.K.'s national anthem.

The Dean of Windsor will also conduct the private family service later on Monday.

How can I watch the funeral?

From 5 a.m. ET Monday, CBC News will have live televised coverage of the state funeral, hosted from London by chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault and Morning Live host Heather Hiscox. You can watch on CBC TV, CBC News Network, CBC Gem and

CBC Radio One will have live coverage of the funeral from 5:30 a.m. ET, hosted by The Current's Matt Galloway in London and World Report's Marcia Young in Toronto. Listen on CBC Radio One and on the free CBC Listen app.

CBC News Network will rebroadcast the funeral at 7 p.m. ET.

Will Canadians get a holiday for the funeral?

The federal government announced that Monday will be a holiday for federal government employees. It's up to the provinces and territories to decide whether anyone else gets the day off — about half of them have declared it a one-time holiday.

The United Kingdom has also declared the day a bank holiday, while Australia has announced a holiday to coincide with its day of mourning on Sept. 22, and New Zealand will make Sept. 26 a one-off national holiday.

How can I sign a condolence book?

The Canadian government has opened an online condolence book. There is also a physical book of condolences at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, which the public can sign from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. People elsewhere in the country should contact their local protocol office for locations of other condolence books.

Will we find out the Queen's cause of death?

It's unclear if the cause of the Queen's death will be made public, as Buckingham Palace is notoriously private about the royals' health. In the Queen's later years, the palace cited "mobility issues" as the reason for her skipping a number of public events without providing further detail. It has also not revealed exactly when she died.

"Since it took some time before the public found out how the Queen's father died, there is likely to be a delay, perhaps of weeks, months or even years," said Sarika Bose, a royal expert and lecturer of Victorian literature at the University of British Columbia.

Queen Elizabeth meets new British Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Sept. 6, two days before the Queen's death. Buckingham Palace, which had been tight-lipped about the monarch's health, did not provide details about what caused the bruising on her hand. (Jane Barlow/Reuters)

What we don't yet know about the Queen's death and funeral:

Many of our audience members have asked us questions we don't yet have answers to. These include: what outfit the Queen will be wearing inside her casket, what special requests she made for her funeral, or the exact time of her death.

Some of these questions might be answered by the Royal Family or others close to the Queen in the weeks, months and years ahead, but others we may never know the answers to.

What happens to the Queen's possessions?

Many of the Queen's personal assets, which Forbes estimates to be worth about $500 million U.S. ($649 million Cdn), are expected to be passed down to King Charles, following a tradition of monarchs bequeathing possessions to their successor. 

Brownlee expects the Queen will have left some jewelry to her daughter, Princess Anne, and to her granddaughters, although details of royal wills are always a closely guarded secret.

"It's more likely it'll pop up and you'll see [someone wearing an item], unless some of them actually decide to talk about it. I'm sure there's been some personal stuff for all of the grandchildren, in particular the women — earrings, bracelets and stuff like that."

Charles has already inherited the Queen's private real estate, including Balmoral Castle and Sandringham Estate, as well as The Crown Estate, an independent organization that is one of the U.K.'s largest landowners, and owner of Buckingham and Kensington palaces. He is exempt from paying inheritance tax on anything handed down "sovereign to sovereign."

A view of Balmoral Castle on Sept. 20, 2017. King Charles inherited the property after his mother's death. (Andrew Milligan/Getty Images)

It's unclear when King Charles and his wife, Camilla, will move into Buckingham Palace from their current residence down the street at Clarence House. Major renovations to upgrade the palace's plumbing, heating and electrical wiring are ongoing and are expected to take several more years to complete. It's likely the King and Queen Consort will occupy fewer rooms than the Queen did, and some of her staff will no longer be needed, Bose said.

Two of the Queen's corgis will be cared for by her son Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the BBC reported.

When is Charles's coronation?

Although Charles automatically became King upon his mother's death, a coronation ceremony still needs to take place — though it may not be until next year.

Queen Elizabeth is pictured in Westminster Abbey during her coronation on June 2, 1953. King Charles's coronation is likely to be months away. (Intercontinentale/AFP/Getty Images)

It's unclear how much of the normal pomp will be involved. The royals' website describes the coronation ceremony as "an occasion for pageantry and celebration," but as the U.K. faces a cost-of-living crisis that could see many struggle to afford their power bills this winter, the Royal Family will likely be under pressure to scale back the events. 


Laura McQuillan is an online journalist with CBC News in Toronto. She covers general news, social issues and science and has a special interest in finding unexpected answers to unusual questions. Laura previously reported from New Zealand and Brazil.


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