The funeral of the late monarch Queen Elizabeth II will take place on Monday 19 September and will include both old traditions and personalisations from Her Majesty herself.
A funeral director told NationalWorld the Queen’s coffin will be pulled by gun carriage by Royal Navy sailors, a tradition dating back to Queen Victoria, and the state funeral will follow protocols echoing such types of funerals in the past.
There will also be some changes to this special state funeral which Queen Elizabeth would have “had a hand in”, according to Jeremy Field, managing director of C.P.J field.
Mr Field explained how for the first time in a long time the state funeral is taking place at Westminster Abbey, whereas “the focal point has been Windsor in the past”.
NationalWorld spoke to Mr Field to understand in more detail what we might expect of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, the preparations that will be taking place at the palace and what it takes to plan a royal funeral where the global population will want to be present.
What can we expect at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral?
Queen Elizabeth’s funeral is a state funeral which has not been seen since the funeral of Winston Churchill.
Mr Field explained: “State funerals are the preserve of very special people.
“However, what’s nice to see is the little bits of personalisation. For the first time in a long time a state funeral is taking place for the monarch at Westminster Abbey - the focal point has been Windsor in the past.
“The Queen wanted to bring the celebration of her life to the centre of the capital so as many people as possible could be there to mark her passing.”
A procession from Westminster Hall down to Westminster Abbey will take place with the Queen’s coffin being pulled by gun carriage.
“It will have echoes of royal funerals of the past, if not state funerals,” Mr Field added.
“My favourite tradition of the state funeral is the coffin on the gun carriage being pulled by ratings from the Royal Navy because this tradition came about from something that happened during the funeral of Queen Victoria.
“The horses spooked and broke their traces that were pulling the gun carriage, and it was when that happened when the Naval ratings who were part of the ceremony felt the right thing to do was step forward and pick up those traces and pull the carriage the rest of the way.
“It’s a really lovely story, and of course Queen Elizabeth’s family will be walking behind at that time as well which is just incredibly poignant.”
Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will also follow protocols of a state funeral which have been in place for some time.
Mr Field said: “The protocols of a state funeral are set out in what we now know to be Operation London Bridge and contain certain ‘must-dos’, such as lying- in-state at Westminster Hall, but other aspects have been personalised such as the decision to hold the funeral at Westminster Abbey rather than St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the venue for previous state funerals.
“Protocol also dictates that the family will have a final time with the coffin in total privacy before the coffin is taken into the crypt under St George’s Chapel. A moment that the world will not see.”
Did the late monarch have an input in her funeral?
The Duke of Norfolk and the Royal household normally make all the arrangements for a royal funeral, “but following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh we heard of his involvement in the Land Rover that brought his coffin,” Mr Field said.
The arrangements for the Queen’s funeral have been in place for a “very long time and rehearsed in the reasonable hours of the morning so I suspect the monarch was aware of these plans being made.”
Mr Field believes it is “reasonable to infer that certainly the late Queen Elizabeth had a hand in her own funeral arrangements.”
The hearse which took the Queen’s coffin back to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening (13 September) had an input from the late monarch herself, which suggests she had an influence over the arrangements.
The design of the car was made specifically and had not been used before for a state funeral.
Mr Field said the car had more glass and the back of the car was lit up so more people were able to see her coffin - he likened this to the Queen’s life where she wore bright clothing so she was always seen.
What are the potential preparations taking place at the palace?
There will be set pieces that would have been prepared for many years, and the state would have “prepared for this moment”, according to Mr Field.
He said: “It will be 11 days from when she died to when the funeral will take place and given the guests coming from around the globe and also those set pieces we’ll see from the marching bands and the very smartly dressed servicemen and women, means that there has been preparations going on for many years.
“I think the Queen’s coffin has been waiting for her for 30 years which seems a little sinister but maybe brought comfort.”
He added that there would have been “a lot of pre-planning and a lot of practising as you only get one chance to get a funeral right.”
“There would be a lot of planning, like we encourage any families from any backgrounds to do before the time comes,” he said.
What does it take to plan a royal funeral?
The global reach Her Majesty had means her funeral will have required a lot of planning - from making sure her own family get to say their goodbyes to her loyal subjects here in the UK.
Mr Field said: “There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of layers to the arrangements.
“This is a funeral of a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and her family who need the opportunity to do and say the things they need to feel about her, what she meant to them.”
He added: “At the same time we have the global population who want to be present. She was such an influence across the world and all of those people want to participate from global leaders to television audiences around the world.
“Then there’s us, loyal subjects in the UK and other realms, who also want to say what we feel and our thankyou’s to her.
“All of that has to be wrapped up into what they deliver for Westminster Abbey, but also everything surrounding that including the lying in state.”