The world has come together to mourn the Queen this morning – with leaders from across the globe gathering at Westminster Abbey for Her Majesty’s funeral. From shortly after 8am, when the doors opened, a steady stream of dignitaries, politicians and military chiefs filed solemnly into the Abbey for the state funeral.
Two thousand people, from American President Joe Biden to France’s Emmanuel Macron, travelled to London to mourn with the Royal Family after the death of the Queen at the age of 96.
Meanwhile outside, thousands of mourners gathered in the capital to be a part of the historic day, with so many people arriving that the viewing areas were closed by London’s City Hall.
In what has been described as “the biggest international event” the UK has hosted in decades, world leaders arrived to pay their respects to the Queen.
More than 100 hundred heads of government are present with US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arriving at the funeral shortly after 10am.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron moved slowly through the north lantern towards his seat in the south transept with his wife Brigitte. He nodded and shared a few words with an usher as the line of dignitaries slowed to a stop as people were shown to their places.
Members of the Royal Family led by King Charles later arrived at Westminster Abbey after a procession from Westminster Hall. Monarch Charles waved at well-wishers from the back seat of his vehicle, which was one of four cars to arrive at Westminster Hall.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were driven in a Range Rover from Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill and on The Mall towards St James’ Palace.
Meanwhile Prince William was seen travelling in a separate Range Rover with a police escort towards St James’ Palace shortly after 10.15am. Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence have also made their way to the service.
Prime Minister Liz Truss was in attendance at the abbey after arriving just before 10.30am. And four former Prime Ministers were also in attendance for the prestigious service. Boris Johnson arrived with wife Carrie shortly after David Cameron was seen with his wife Samantha.
While former Brit PM’s Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were also seen in sharp black suits. Carole Middleton and Michael Middleton – the parents of the Princess of Wales – arrived for the service.
Tom Parker Bowles, the son of Camilla, the Queen Consort, was present, alongside other members of their family. Politicians were seen stepping out just as the stewards put the finishing touches to the sand outside where the gun carriage will draw to a halt.
Labour leader Keir Starmer arrived shortly after 9am. Starmer earlier said that he hoped the events of the past 10 days would help bring people together. While Chancellor of the Duchy and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi was one of the first who arrived.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Business Secretary, was also snapped sporting a black suit and a top hat while Cop26 President Alok Sharma walked through the doors a few minutes later. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was pictured walking through the doors with his wife Saadiya just after 9.30am.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has also entered the abbey, wearing a kilt. And Education Secretary Kit Malthouse was also seen arriving at the ceremony for Her Majesty, Former leader of the Conservative Party William Hague, and Home Secretary Suella Braverman were also spotted.
And former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Liberal Democratic leader Sir Ed Davey are with them. King Philippe of Belgium and his wife Queen Mathilde arrived in Chelsea in a diplomatic vehicle ahead of the funeral. The King was dressed in ceremonial uniform with a gold collar.
Irish President Michael D Higgins and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog were also present at the historic occasion. Pranav Bhanot and Nancy O’Neill arrived at Westminster Abbey just after 8am.
A long-serving nurse, Ms O’Neill was recognised for her efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Bhanot, from Chigwell in Essex, helped deliver 1,200 free meals during the pandemic. Both are attending the funeral after being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The Queen’s state funeral will see one of the biggest gatherings of famous faces hosted in the UK for decades. The kings and queens of Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain are also among royal members across Europe who will attend. From further afield, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are set to attend the ceremony.
Other world leaders we expect to see this morning are Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with leaders from many other Commonwealth nations.
South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa attended the funeral as did Kenya’s William Ruto. Turkish politician and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has also arrived. Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan has arrived at the Royal Hospital Chelsea ahead of the Queen’s funeral.
A long motorcade of diplomatic and police vehicles sped down Lower Sloane Street towards the Royal Hospital, carrying Mr Wang to the buses that will take him and other world leaders to Westminster Abbey.
A Danish and Spanish contingent arrived in Chelsea in a convoy at 9.45am. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who is now Europe’s longest reigning monarch, and King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, are expected to attend.
The Spanish royals waved as they passed by the small crowd of members of the public and media gathered on the pavement. While diplomatic cars belonging to Jordan and Sweden drove through the police cordon in Chelsea at 9.30am.
King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, of Jordan, and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are among foreign royals to attend. A Qatari vehicle bearing the national flag on the bonnet arrived earlier followed closely by Singapore and Norwegian cars.
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and President Halimah Yacob of Singapore are among invitees.
A car registered to the European Commission has arrived at the police cordon at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. While a motor with Polish number plates has arrived at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea as world leaders continue to gather before travelling to Westminster Abbey.
Polish President Andrzej Duda was scheduled to attend with his wife, Agata. And a car registered to the Irish embassy was among a group of diplomatic cars to arrive in Chelsea with a police motorbike escort.
Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin was one of the dignitaries expected to attend the funeral. The Italian president Sergio Mattarella was among the last to arrive in Chelsea in a chauffeur-driven Maserati with the number plate ITA 1.
The day of the Queen’s funeral marks the climax of what is being regarded as the biggest security operation the UK has ever seen. At 12.15pm, 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 4pm. 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.
- An Agency report