Queen's death: What do royal state funerals look like?

·Royal Correspondent
·8-min read

The UK is getting ready to pay its final respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

The date of her funeral has yet to be confirmed, but the last time the nation came together to mourn the passing of a senior royal was for Prince Philip in April 2021, when the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

This resulted in a much smaller funeral, with the Queen and other mourners wearing face masks and sitting apart inside the chapel in Windsor Castle to abide by COVID regulations.

It was a world away from the pomp attached to the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002, when she was given a ceremonial royal funeral.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Queen Elizabeth II watches as pallbearers carry the coffin of Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh into St George’s Chapel by the pallbearers during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, United Kingdom. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Yui Mok-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
A masked and socially distanced Queen watches as pallbearers carry the coffin of Prince Philip into St George’s Chapel, Windsor. (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Given the length of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, it is decades since the UK experienced a full, state funeral following the death of a monarch.

On 6 February 1952, George VI died unexpectedly in his sleep a few months after a lung operation.

He lay in state in Westminster Hall with more than 300,000 people attending to pay their respects.

Thousands of people lined the streets of London on the day of his funeral, and the roads were closed at 8am.

The Big Ben clock tower chimed 56 times, once for every year of his life, while 56 guns fired from the Tower of London, also marking his age.

(Original Caption) 2/12/1952-London, England: Guardsmen pallbearers are carrying te coffin of King George VI from the train that bore it from Sandringham to London. The coffin is draped with the Royal Standard on which rest the crown and a single spray of flowers from the widowed Queen. In right foreground are the three mourning Queens, young Queen Elizabeth, daughter; Queen Mother Elizabeth, Widow, and Dower Queen Mary, mother.
Guardsmen pallbearers carrying the coffin of King George VI from the train that bore it from Sandringham to London in 1952. (Getty Images)
The late King George VI of England lies in state in the chapel at Windsor. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
The late King George VI of England lies in state in the chapel at Windsor. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)
The funeral of King George VI, at St. George's Chapel , Windsor Castle. In front of the altar is the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Geoffrey Fisher. Immediately behind the coffin are the heavily veiled Queen, Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Princes Royal (King George's sister, Princess Mary).   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The funeral of King George VI at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. (PA Images via Getty Images)

His coffin was taken through London, passing St James's Palace, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner among other landmarks before arriving at Paddington station where it was taken by train to Windsor Castle.

His funeral was held in St George's Chapel at Windsor, and the service followed the Book of Common Prayer.

Parts of the service were taken in turn by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury as well as the Dean of Windsor, with traditional hymns and prayers.

At the end, the Garter King of Arms said: "God be in my head, And in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, And in my looking; God be in my mouth, And in my speaking; God be in my heart, And in my thinking; God be at mine end, And at my departing."

He was buried in the royal vault in St George's Chapel. He was reinterred in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in 1969, shortly after it was completed.

The funeral procession of King George VI at Marble Arch, London on February 15, 1952. - The coffin of George VI was led in procession from Westminster to Paddington station. From there, he was transported by train to Windsor, to rest in his final resting place, the Royal Chapel of the Castle. The procession travels the six-and-a-half-mile journey through the streets of London in over three hours. The silent people, massed on the sidewalks, pay a last homage to their king. (Photo by - / INTERCONTINENTALE / AFP) (Photo by -/INTERCONTINENTALE/AFP via Getty Images)
The funeral procession of King George VI passes Marble Arch in London on 15 February 1952. (Intercontinentale/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Mother Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attend the arrival of the remains of King George VI at Westminster Hall in London on February 11, 1952. - Transported from Sandringham to London by special train, the coffin of the late sovereign George VI passed through the British capital to be brought to Westminster Hall. (Photo by - / Sport and General Press Agency Limited / AFP) (Photo by -/Sport and General Press Agency L/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen Mother, the Queen and Princess Margaret attend the arrival of the remains of King George VI at Westminster Hall. (Sport and General Press Agency Limited/AFP)

The ceremonial funeral of the Queen Mother took place on 9 April 2002, after she lay in state for three days, at Westminster Hall.

Crowds of hundreds of thousands of people queued to pay their respects to the much-loved figure, who provided the public with moral support during the Second World War.

Members of the public threw flowers as the coffin passed by and thousands of tributes were laid on the Mall.

403364 17: Crowds gather to pay their respects to the Queen Mother April 5, 2002 as her ceremonial procession makes its way down the Mall in London. The Queen Mother will lie in state in Westminster Hall before her funeral in four days. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
Crowds gathered to pay their respects to the Queen Mother on 5 April 2002 as her ceremonial procession made its way down the Mall in London. (Getty Images)
403604 02: The hearse carrying the coffin of the Queen Mother arrives at Windsor Castle after her funeral service in London April 9, 2002 in Windsor. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)
Her coffin was taken to Windsor Castle after her funeral service in London on 9 April 2002. (Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

A two-minute silence was held at 11.30am on the day of the ceremony.

The Queen Mother's funeral at Westminster Abbey had 2,200 guests and included 35 members of the royal family, four former prime ministers, US first lady Laura Bush and Dame Vera Lynn.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales and Peter Phillips stood in front of the coffin in Westminster Abbey.

Prince Charles appeared to be holding back tears as he said goodbye to his grandmother.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM:  British Queen Mother's coffin is transported on a gun carriage along the London Mall 05 April 2002, en-route to Westminster Hall, where she will lay until the funeral on 09 April 2002.    AFP PHOTO     FRANCOIS GUILLOT WPA POOL (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen Mother's coffin transported on a gun carriage along the London Mall on 5 April 2002, en-route to Westminster Hall. (Francois Guillot/AFP)
403363 01: Prince Charles (C) with other members of the British Royal Family walk behind a coffin bearing the Queen Mother April 5, 2002 as her ceremonial procession makes its way down The Mall in London. The Queen Mother's body will lie in state in Westminster Hall before her funeral in four days. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
Prince Charles, centre, and other members of the Royal Family walk behind the coffin bearing the Queen Mother on 5 April 2002 in her ceremonial procession down The Mall in London. (Getty Images)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, then Dr George Carey thanked the Queen Mother for her "faithful duty and unwearied service.”

"Like the sun, she bathed us in her warm glow."

The coffin was driven from Westminster Abbey to St George’s Chapel in Windsor where she was buried alongside her husband George VI and their daughter, Princess Margaret.

403364 06: Britain's Prince Charles (R), Prince Phillip (C) and Prince Andrew (L) lead Prince Harry and other Royals as they walk behind the coffin bearing the Queen Mother April 5, 2002 as her ceremonial procession makes its way down the Mall in London. The Queen Mother's body will lie in state in Westminster Hall before her funeral in four days. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew, Prince Charlesand Prince Phillip led Prince Harry and other members of the Royal Family behind the Queen Mother's coffin. (Getty Images)

On the eve of the funeral, the Queen delivered a televised address to the nation and the Commonwealth about her mother.

She said: "I thank you for the support you are giving me and my family as we come to terms with her death and the void she has left in our midst."

She added: "Over the years I have met many people who have had to cope with family loss, sometimes in the most tragic of circumstances.

"So I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life.

"She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end.

'I know too that her faith was always a great strength to her."

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM:  The Queen leaves Westminster Abbey with the Duke of Edinburgh after the funeral ceremony of the Queen Mother 09 April 2002 in London. The funeral is the culmination of more than a week of mourning for the royal matriarch, who died March 30 at the age of 101. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen leaves Westminster Abbey with the Duke of Edinburgh after the Queen Mother's funeral. (AFP via Getty Images)
403541 12: Britain's Prince Charles (R) Prince Andrew (L) and Prince William (C) walk behind the Gun Carriage bearing the coffin of the Queen Mother April 9, 2002 as it makes its way to Westminster Abbey during her state funeral April 9, 2002 in London. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew, William and Prince Charles walk behind the Gun Carriage bearing the coffin of the Queen Mother on the way to Westminster Abbey during her state funeral. (Getty Images)

For Prince Philip's funeral in April 2021, there were no vast crowds.

Instead there were just 30 mourners - the Queen joined by her children and their spouses, her grandchildren and their spouses, a handful of Philip's family and one of his close friends, Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The memorial featured a procession, planned by Philip, as he was carried in a hearse he had designed himself.

The ceremony included readings he had requested, but no sermon.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 17: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Peter Phillips, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence follow Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's coffin (draped in his Royal Standard Flag and bearing his Royal Navy cap, sword and a bouquet of lilies, white roses, freesia and sweet peas) as it is carried on a specially designed Land Rover Defender hearse during his funeral procession to St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)
Prince Philip's funeral was held entirely inside the Windsor Castle grounds so that crowds would not gather. (Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin, covered with His Royal Highness’s Personal Standard is seen on the purpose built Land Rover, during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England.   Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin, covered with His Royal Highness’s Personal Standard is seen on the purpose built Land Rover, during his funeral. (WireImage)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: (L-R) Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Just 30 mourners were at Philip's funeral, including the Queen, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and Prince Harry. (Getty Images)

Readings came from the first lesson from the Ecclesiasticus, part of the apocrypha, and Psalm 104.

The Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding, said: "With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us.

"We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the Nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.

"Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity."

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Rt Revd David Conner,  Dean of Windsor speaks during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Rt Revd David Conner, Dean of Windsor during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Getty Images)

The Queen did not give any televised addresses for her husband, but her son Charles did share a message, as did several members of the Royal Family.

Charles said his father had given "the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country".

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/04/17: Prince Philip tributes displayed on the screens at Piccadilly Circus.
The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh took place on the 17th of April 2021 in Windsor. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Prince Philip tributes displayed on the screens at Piccadilly Circus. (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Snowdon David Armstrong-Jones, Peter Phillips, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England.  Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage)
Members of the Royal Family in a socially distanced procession through Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral of Prince Philip. (WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the gardens of Marlborough House, London, to view the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, on April 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla at Marlborough House, London, to view the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace after Philip's death. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen's 95th birthday came during the period of royal mourning.

Sharing her grief with the country she served, she told the nation: "I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate.

"While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.

"My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."

Additional reporting by Kate Eagles.

Watch: Edward and Sophie view hundreds of flowers for Prince Philip