What is a catafalque? Why the Queen’s coffin will rest on one in Westminster, what it’s made from and meaning

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The Queen’s closed coffin will rest on a catafalque

The traditions are a part of a series of plans which are known as Operation Unicorn and Operation London Bridge.

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Many members of the public have paid their respect to the Queen and the coffin of Queen Elizabeth in the lying in state period.

But what is a catafalque and what can we expect during the mourning period of Queen Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning monarch in British History (Getty Images)Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning monarch in British History (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning monarch in British History (Getty Images) | Getty Images

What is a catafalque?

Her Majesty The Queen’s closed coffin rests on a raised platform known as a catafalque.

A catafalque is a raised box or similar platform which is used to support a coffin during a funeral or memorial service.

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The term is derived from the Italian word ‘catafalco’ which translates as scaffolding. A catafalque is primarily used to support the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.

A catafalque is used for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth to allow people to file past her coffin and pay their final respects to the late monarch who served from 1952 until her death in 2022.

What is a catafalque made from?

A catafalque is typically a highly decorated raised rectangular wooden box or a metal stand that is used to hold an adult sized coffin.

It has the same purpose as a bier which is more commonly used at funerals but is slightly less decorated than a catafalque.

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How long did it take to make the Queen’s coffin?

Queen’s Elizabeth’s coffin was reportedly crafted more than three decades ago in 1991. It is lined with lead, a royal tradition which is used to help the corpse last for longer after its burial.

On this occasion the burial will take place at King George VI Memorial Chapel at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, west of London.

When can people visit the Queen’s coffin in London?

The Queen’s coffin has travelled from Edinburgh to London and will be available to the public following the lying in state procession which takes place on Wednesday 14 September.

During the lying-in state procession the coffin will travel from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.

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The coffin will be open to visitors from 5pm on Wednesday 14 September. It will be open 24 hours a day for mourners to pay their respects and will close at 6.30am on Monday 19 September - the day of the Queen’s State Funeral.

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