By EMMANUEL YASHIM
LONDON– Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is to be reunited with her husband the duke of Edinburgh as she is laid to rest in a historic state funeral.
Crowds of mourners have flocked to London, Windsor and royal sites throughout Britain on the national bank holiday, with the service set to draw millions of TV viewers across the globe.
The royal family, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be among the 2,000 people gathered at Westminster Abbey to remember the late monarch on Monday morning, before a committal service at Windsor Castle.
The day marks the climax of what is being regarded as the biggest security operation Britain has ever seen, surpassing the operation for the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the London 2012 Olympics, which saw up to 10,000 police officers on duty per day.
The royal family will walk in procession behind the queen’s coffin as it is carried through the Gothic church by the military bearer party.
King Charles III and his wife Camilla will walk immediately behind the coffin, followed by Princess Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, and Prince William and his wife Kate.
George and Charlotte will walk with their parents side-by-side in formation, followed by their uncle and aunt, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, and other members of the royal family.
The service follows the queen’s lying in state period at Westminster Hall, which ended at 6.:30 am (0530 GMT).
Chrissy Heerey, who was the last member of the public to leave the Hall, said: “It’s one of the highlights of my life and I feel very privileged to be here.”
The queen’s coffin will be taken in a grand military procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the funeral at 11 am.
Before the service, conducted by the Very Reverend David Hoyle, the dean of Westminster, the tenor bell will be tolled every minute for 96 minutes, reflecting the years of the queen’s life.
Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, members of European royal families and key figures from public life will gather at the abbey.
Hoyle will say in The Bidding: “Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service.”
The queen’s piper, Warrant Officer Class 1 (Pipe Major) Paul Burns, will play the traditional lament “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep” after “The Last Post,” two minutes’ silence, “Reveille” and the national anthem.
The funeral will be broadcast live at around 125 cinemas and several cathedrals in Britain, and on a big screen in Holyrood Park in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.
At 12:15 pm, the coffin will be taken in procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and then travel to Windsor.
The hearse will then travel in procession to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle via the Long Walk, after which a televised committal service will take place in St George’s Chapel at 4 pm.
The dean of Windsor will conduct the service, with prayers said by the rector of Sandringham, the minister of Crathie Kirk and the chaplain of Windsor Great Park.
The chapel’s choir will sing, and after the penultimate hymn, the imperial state crown, the orb and the sceptre will be moved from the queen’s coffin to the altar.
After the final hymn, the king will place the queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin, while the lord chamberlain breaks his wand of office and places it on the coffin.
The dean of Windsor will say a psalm and the “Commendation” while the queen’s coffin is lowered into the royal vault.
After this, the sovereign’s piper will play a lament and the archbishop of Canterbury will pronounce the blessing, before the congregation sings the national anthem.
Later in the evening, there will be a private interment service with senior members of the royal family.
The queen’s final resting place will be the King George VI memorial chapel, an annex to the main chapel where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.
Philip’s coffin will move from the royal vault to the memorial chapel to join the queen’s.
It came after the country observed a minute’s silence at 8 pm on Sunday to remember the late monarch.
However, Big Ben did not strike before and after the silence as originally planned due to a technical issue. (PA Media/dpa)