The funeral service in memory of Britain’s longest-serving reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II has begun at Westminster Abbey.
Guests include world leaders, including US President Biden and hundreds of other foreign dignitaries.
The service is led by the Dean of Westminster with a sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
King Charles III led a grim procession behind his mother’s coffin from Westminster Hall to the abbey.
The queen’s coffin was carried – in the first of three processions of the day – through Parliament Square, at a distance of about 250 meters. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex walked side by side behind their father, the king. The king walked alongside his brothers, the queen’s four sons.
The procession coming from the abbey saw the State Tank carrying the coffin, pulled by 142 sailors. In the square stood an honor guard, made up of all three military services.
As they walked towards the abbey, the royals were joined by the Massed Pipes and Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Royal Air Force, and the ringing of the abbey bell. United States President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Canadian Prime Minister are among the world leaders who have arrived at the abbey, while six former British Prime Ministers are also present.
At the state funeral, some 2,000 mourners greet the queen, including 500 dignitaries, including presidents, prime ministers, and foreign royalty.
There are also members of many European royal families, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark, as well as the emperor and empress of Japan.
Former Prime Ministers Theresa May, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, John Major, and Boris Johnson are at the historic abbey before the ceremony.
About 200 people recognized in honor of Queen’s Day also received an invitation. Knife crime activist Natalie Queiroz said she was “completely speechless” when asked to attend.
Barbara Crellin, a volunteer emergency responder, said she “just cried and cried” when she was invited and described herself as “so humbled and privileged to be here”.
Millions of people will attend the funeral across the country and most workplaces are closed for a public holiday.
The event is also expected to be watched by millions around the world, with the Queen serving as head of state for 14 kingdoms across the Commonwealth.
For those who have not been invited, large screens have been set up in cities across the country, while some cinemas, pubs, and other venues are also showing this unique event. The Order of Service shows a full service of traditional sacred music and Bible readings.
Towards the end, the Last Post is played, after which there is a national silence of two minutes.
After the service, the coffin is carried in procession on foot from the Abbey to Wellington Arch, in London’s Hyde Park Corner, to the grim tribute of Big Ben.
Additionally, greetings will be thrown every minute during the procession from Hyde Park, and people will be able to witness it in person from designated vantage points along the way.
Once in Wellington Arch, around 1 pm, the chest will be transferred to the new state hearse for its final journey to Windsor Castle. There, the Queen’s coffin is carried to St. George’s Chapel for a funeral service.
The dedication service will be attended by a small congregation of around 800 guests and will be presided over by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, with the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In a private family service, the Queen will later be buried alongside her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George’s Chapel.