England’s capital, London, will today be the centre of global attention as the world bids a final farewell to the late Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch.
After days of lying-in-state, having been moved from Balmoral to Edinburgh, the body of the late Queen Elizabeth II, will be at Westminster Abbey, in London for a burial service, then to Windsor Castle for a private burial.
The state funeral is expected to be a somber, yet royal ceremony in line with a plan made years ago, and one never seen before since the last state funeral of British former prime minister, Winston Churchill, about six decades years ago.
The funeral will be one of the biggest gatherings of royalty and politicians hosted in the UK for decades, as about 2,000 guests including 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries have been invited to join.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Asantehene, OtumfuoOsei Tutu II, are expected to join world leaders to pay their last respects to the Queen.
The final leg of the late Monarch’s final journey to eternal rest would begin at 8am this morning when filling past of the coffin at Westminster Hall in the heart of London will come to an end.
A short distance away, at Westminster Abbey, the doors will be opened for guests to start arriving ahead of the service while at 10:44, the Queen’s coffin would be lifted from the catafalque where it has been resting since Wednesday afternoon, and taken to Westminster Abbey, for her funeral service.
She will be carried on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy drawn by 142 sailors. That carriage was last seen in 1979 for the funeral of Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and was used for the Queen’s father, George VI in 1952.
Senior members of the Royal Family, including the new King, Charles III, and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, are scheduled to follow the gun carriage in procession.
The Pipes and Drums of the Scottish and Irish regiments will lead the ceremony, along with members of the Royal Air Force and the Gurkhas with the route lined by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and a guard of honour.
At 11:00, the Queen’s funeral servicewill begin at Westminster Abbey, the historic church where Britain’s kings and queens are crowned, including the Queen’s own coronation in 1953.
It was also where the then Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947.
The service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, giving the sermon. Prime Minister Liz Truss will read a lesson.
At 11:55am, towards the end of the funeral service the Last Post – a short bugle call – will be played, followed by a two-minute national silence, then the national anthem and a lament played by the Queen’s piper will bring the service to an end at about midday.
The Queen’s coffin will be drawn in a walking procession through town.
That evening, at a private family service inside the Windsor Castle, the Queen will be buried together with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, located inside St George’s Chapel.
Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.
COMPLIED BY JONATHAN DONKOR WITH ADDITIONAL FILES FROM BBC