When and where is Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, and how can you pay your respects?
On Sept. 8, Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96, sparking a national outpouring of grief as the United Kingdom lost its longest-reigning monarch.
Hours later, the government announced a 10-day period of national mourning, culminating in what may be the largest funeral the world has ever seen.
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If you want to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, attend the funeral or watch it from afar, here’s everything you need to know. This includes information about booking flights from the U.S. to London with points and miles as well as award availability at popular points hotels.
When will Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral take place?
The funeral is set to take place Monday, Sept. 19. Proceedings will begin with a muted bong from Big Ben at 9 a.m., with the great bell’s hammer dampened by a specially made leather muffle. Her coffin will then be carried to Westminster Abbey, where the ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.
Where will the funeral take place?
Breaking hundreds of years of royal tradition, Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey, where she was married and crowned. Not since 1760, following the death of George II, has a monarch’s funeral taken place in the ancient abbey at Parliament Square.
Related: In pictures: The queen’s life in travel
Since then, all royal funerals have been held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, including Prince Philip’s COVID-19-restricted service last year. The reason for the new venue? Not only was it where Elizabeth married Philip in 1947 and was crowned in 1953, but simply put, it is bigger and therefore better suited to accommodate the deluge of world dignitaries hoping to attend.
Where will the queen lie in state beforehand?
Starting Monday, Sept. 12, the queen's coffin will lie in state at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mourners can view the coffin from 5 p.m., with a queuing system and tight security checks and restrictions on mobile phones. Photography of any kind will be strictly banned.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, she will be taken to Buckingham Palace, where members of the royal family will have a chance to pay their respects privately.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the coffin will be transported to Westminster Hall to begin the lying-in-state, codenamed Operation Marquee. It will be placed on a raised catafalque at the center of the hall for exactly four days. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to arrive to pay their respects, so if you are planning a visit, expect very long waits.
Some members of the royal family are also expected to pay their own tribute by standing guard around the coffin, a tradition called the Vigil of the Princes.
Will public transport in London run as usual?
It will, but expect central London on the day of the funeral to be very busy as vast crowds descend on the center of the city to be a part of the historic moment.
Travel chiefs have warned that services and stations will be “extremely busy” in the buildup to the funeral and asked people to avoid unnecessary travel if possible. They urged careful planning to anyone who must travel, particularly on rail, bus and air routes toward London.
The Rail Delivery Group announced that off-peak and super-off-peak ticket holders will be able to get fee-free refunds on tickets purchased before the queen’s death was announced.
Transport for London warned of severe disruption to the capital’s travel network as up to a million visitors descend on areas surrounding Buckingham Palace and Westminster.
Related: London Underground 101: A guide to getting the Tube in London
Andy Byford, the commissioner of Transport for London, said: “Thousands of people from all over the U.K. and beyond are expected to make their way to London to pay their respects. We are working with our partners to keep our city moving smoothly and to ensure that everyone who is planning to attend the memorial events can do so safely.”
“Roads and public transport in central London will be very busy, so we advise everyone to allow plenty of extra time for their journeys and to avoid driving where possible.”
Traveling to and from London airports and rail stations
The number of foreign dignitaries expected to arrive for the funeral is so high that the British government has urged them to fly on commercial flights to avoid airport disruption due to the influx of additional private jets.
Heathrow Airport (LHR) has said it will not be available for private flight arrangements and told heads of state to use other London airports if they cannot fly commercially.
If you’re traveling through one of London’s airports in the next week, you can expect increased security, potentially very long queues and large crowds.
Related: The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London
Will there be a funeral procession?
Yes. On Wednesday, the queen’s body will be taken from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall via the Mall, through Horse Guards and past the Cenotaph in a huge (and slow) procession made up of the military, other royals and possibly even the queen’s beloved corgis.
It is said there will be space for up to a million members of the public to line the streets as the queen’s coffin makes its final journey. The cortege’s march will also be broadcast on large screens in the city’s parks.
There will also be a similar procession at Windsor ahead of the committal service at St. George’s Chapel.
Where will Queen Elizabeth II be buried?
She will be buried at King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor, to join her father, King George VI, and mother, Queen Elizabeth, as well as her sister, Princess Margaret.
Can I attend the funeral?
Not unless you are one of the 2,000 guests with an invitation. These are mostly the British royal family; past prime ministers; the queen’s personal friends, ladies-in-waiting, and other private staff; as well as royal family members from countries around the world and also various heads of state.
Due to the demand, the U.K. government has even told foreign heads of state to keep their entourages light. Their guests have been limited to just spouses, and other family members have been asked to stay away.
Have any large-scale events been canceled?
King Charles III announced a bank holiday for the day of the funeral, so a lot of businesses will close for the day.
As a mark of respect, a host of events across the grief-stricken nation were canceled last weekend as the country entered an inevitable period of national mourning, including all Premier League football games as well as several other sporting events, and the last day of the BBC Proms. It remains to be seen if this weekend will see the same level of cancellations.
Shops may open on the day of the funeral, though the government has said any that wish to close may do so. Retailer John Lewis, for example, confirmed all of its department stores and Waitrose shops will close on the day of the funeral.
Using points and miles to fly to London
If you want to be in London to pay your respects next week, many airlines are offering last-minute award space to London.
Both American Airlines and British Airways have open economy award space from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Heathrow Airport (LHR) this weekend. You can use 30,000 AAdvantage miles or 20,000 British Airways Avios for these flights. Just note that you'll pay higher taxes and fees if you book British Airways-operated flights.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic has open award space to London from a number of its U.S. gateways this weekend. You'll pay just 10,000 Virgin points and roughly $150 in taxes and fees for economy flights from East Coast cities like Boston, New York and Washington to London this week. Likewise, you can book tickets from Atlanta to London for 12,500 Virgin points and $150 in taxes and fees. You can transfer most transferable points currencies to Virgin Atlantic.
United also has economy award space from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Dulles International Airport (IAD) to London this Saturday and Sunday. United awards start at 32,100 miles and $5.60 in taxes one-way. You can also book these tickets with Avianca LifeMiles and other Star Alliance loyalty programs, giving you more options if you want to book with transferable points.
There are some inexpensive cash fares this weekend too. American, JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic are all offering sub-$1,000 round-trip fares from New York to London this weekend.
Likewise, Norse Atlantic Airways — a new low-cost carrier — has round-trip flights from JFK to London Gatwick Airport (LGW) for under $600 this weekend. Just note that Norse does not include checked bags, seat assignments, meals or other amenities with its base fares.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of flights, so be sure to run your own searches to see if there's award space or low-cost tickets from your home airport to London.
Points hotels in London
You can also use hotel points to offset the cost of your trip. Many hotels spanning all the major loyalty programs have open award nights in London this weekend and next week.
If you'd like to stay near Buckingham Palace, you can book the DoubleTree by Hilton London — Victoria for 70,000 points this weekend into next week. Cash rates start at over $900 this weekend, making this an excellent redemption.
Marriott has award nights at the nearby Sheraton Grand London Park Lane for 70,000 points per night. Remember, you can get a fifth night free on five-night award bookings.
Meanwhile, you can book the Hyatt Place London City East for just 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night. This hotel is farther from the funeral procession but is easily accessible by public transit or taxi.
How can I pay my respects if I’m not in London?
The funeral will be televised live on the BBC and ITV for anyone who wants to watch it unfold.
At midday, a nationwide two-minute silence will also take place.
If you want to do something more personal, you can leave a message in an online book of condolence on the royal family's website. A selection of those messages will be passed on to members of the family, it says, and may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.
Many local authorities have set up physical books of condolence in libraries, town halls and other civic buildings, as well as suggested places where flowers can be left.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh.