Westminster Abbey - traditional church for royals in life and death

·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: Britain mourns Queen Elizabeth

By Angus MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters) - Westminster Abbey in central London has been the site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British royalty for nearly 1,000 years.

On Monday, it will be the venue for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth, who died on Sept. 8 in Balmoral, Scotland, at the age of 96. She was also married and crowned in the Abbey.

* The original church was built on the site of a monastery in the 11th century by King Edward the Confessor. The present church - one of the British capital's best known landmarks - dates from 1245, when construction began under the auspices of King Henry III.

* The Abbey website says: "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's connection with Westminster Abbey ran like a thread through her early life and her long reign.

"As an 11-year-old girl, she watched as her father was crowned here. As a young adult, she married here and was crowned here. She continued to come to the Abbey regularly to attend celebrations and commemorations of national and international significance and to attend family weddings and funerals."

* Monday's service will be attended by King Charles and members of the royal family, the British Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of the government and opposition, and foreign leaders, royalty and diplomatic representatives among others.

* The Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, will conduct the service and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preach the sermon.

* The Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, will perform.

* The queen's wedding to Prince Philip took place on Nov. 20, 1947. Her coronation was on June 2, 1953. Her final visit was for Philip's Thanksgiving Service on March 29, 2022.

* Princess Anne, the queen's daughter, and Captain Mark Phillips were married there on Nov. 14, 1973.

The royal wedding of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton took place in the Abbey on April 29, 2011.

* The Abbey was the venue for the funeral of Princess Diana on Sept. 6, 1997, and the Queen Mother's funeral on April 9, 2002.

* The first monarch buried at the abbey was King Edward in 1066. Up to 1760, 13 kings of England and four reigning queens including Elizabeth I, were buried there.

Mary Queen of Scots is also buried in the Abbey. George II was the last monarch to be buried there. Since then royal burials have been at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle or at the mausoleum at Frogmore, an estate adjoining the castle, according to the website.

* William the Conqueror was crowned in the Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066. The coronation of every monarch since then has taken place there, except for Edward V, who was never crowned, and Edward VIII, who abdicated before he could be.

* Eight prime ministers and a number of eminent military men, poets and other notables are also buried in the Abbey. It also hosts the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

(Reporting by Angus MacSwan, Editing by xxx)