What is Operation Marquee? When is Queen’s coffin lying in state - Operation Feather, Vigil of Princes details

The death of the Queen triggered a series of coded operations detailing the process of events, commemorations and royal duties to be followed

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A series of highly-detailed plans came into effect last week following the announcement of the Queen’s death.

The schedule of events, commemorations and royal duties to be carried out in the wake of Her Majesty’s passing take on a series of codenames relating to the movements of her coffin and her grieving family.

King Charles III, who acceded to the throne immediately on the death of Elizabeth II, must give his final approval of the plans.

The long-held London Bridge plans for the Queen’s death have been put into action and set out a strict timetable, including a lying-in-state and state funeral.

The arrangements have a more complex factor due to the Queen’s death being in Scotland, which triggered Operation Unicorn, the contingency plans in case of such an event.

A series of other operations all form part of the carefully organised arrangements, including Operation Marquee which will cover the following days.

Operation Marquee covers the four days of the Queen’s lying-in-state (Photo: Getty Images)Operation Marquee covers the four days of the Queen’s lying-in-state (Photo: Getty Images)
Operation Marquee covers the four days of the Queen’s lying-in-state (Photo: Getty Images)

What is Operation Marquee?

Operation Marquee covers the four days of the Queen’s lying-in-state, focussing on the arrangements inside Westminster Hall. This includes ceremonial aspects, services and vigils.

It is expected to start on Wednesday 14 September and will end on Sunday ahead of the Queen’s state funeral the following day.

Senior royals are expected to pay their respects here, standing guard around the coffin in a tradition that is known as the Vigil of the Princes.

It is likely that the Queen’s children will honour her with a vigil, and possibly her grandchildren, joining the guard over the coffin.

Should the Princess Royal stand guard for the Queen, she will be the first female member of

Operation Marquee is linked to Operation Feather, which refers to the arrangements for the public to queue in their thousands to see the monarch’s coffin on its catafalque.

Operation Feather deals with the logistics outside Westminster Hall, including management of the queues as people wait to pay their respects.

When is the Queen’s coffin lying-in-state?

The Queen’s lying in state is expected to begin in Westminster Hall – Operation Marquee – on Wednesday 14 September, following a ceremonial procession through London. It will last four full days in total.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct a short service following the coffin’s arrival and hundreds of thousands of people will file past the coffin on its catafalque and pay their respects, just as they did for the Queen Mother’s lying in state in 2002.

The public will be able to pay their respects to the late monarch in Westminster Hall 24 hours a day from 5pm on Wednesday 14 September until 6.30am on the day of the state funeral, Monday 19 September.

The government has warned that the queue to pay respects to the Queen is expected to be very long and people could face standing for hours, or possibly overnight, with little opportunity to sit down as the queue will be continually moving.

People are urged to “dress appropriately for the occasion” and clothes “with political or offensive slogans” have been banned.

Queue-jumpers and anyone who is drunk will be booted out of the queue by stewards and police patrolling the lines, and visitors will face airport-style security checks, with tight restrictions on what can be taken in.

Flowers, tributes, candles, flags, photos, hampers, sleeping bags, blankets, folding chairs and camping equipment are all banned, and flowers should only be taken to the dedicated area in Green Park.

Only bags smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm will be allowed into the hall. Larger bags can be left at the bag drop facility, but capacity is limited and it may be full.

Flasks or water bottles, except clear water bottles which must be emptied of their contents before the security search point, are prohibited inside, as are weapons, whistles, smoke canisters and air-horns and other such items.

Government guidance adds that people should not film, photograph, use mobile phones or other handheld devices in the security search area or within the Palace of Westminster.