World leaders arrived at Westminster Abbey for the state funeral of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
King Charles III will lead a sombre procession behind his mother’s coffin on the short journey from Westminster Hall to the abbey.
The abbey’s bell has started to toll once a minute ahead of the service which will begin at 10:00GMT
It marks the end of 10 days of events across the UK since the Queen’s death. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex will once more walk side-by-side behind their father, the King, who will walk alongside his siblings, the Queen’s four children.
Two of the Queen’s great-grandchildren, Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven, will also walk behind the Queen’s coffin.
The State Gun Carriage will carry the coffin, drawn by 142 sailors. A guard of honour will stand in the square made up of all three military services, accompanied by a Royal Marines band.
Some 2,000 mourners will bid farewell to the Queen at the state funeral, including 500 dignitaries; with Presidents, Prime Ministers and foreign royalty among the guests.
President Akufo-Addo and first lady Rebeca Akufo-Addo are present at the ceremony. US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have arrived, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska will also be at the abbey.
There will also be members of many European royal families, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark, as well as the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Former Prime Ministers Theresa May, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, John Major and Boris Johnson all entered the historic abbey ahead of the ceremony.
Others who arrived include Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the UK’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland’s former first minister Arlene Foster.
Additionally some 200 persons who were recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours also received invitations.
Knife crime campaigner, Natalie Queiroz, revealed she was “totally speechless” when she was asked to attend.
“I think it reflects Her Majesty because she wanted to constantly be in touch with her people and even on her final moments she’s made sure that her people are here represented.”Natalie Queiroz
Barbara Crellin, a volunteer emergency responder, stated that she “just cried and cried” when she was invited and described herself as “so humbled and privileged to be here”.
Foreign dignitaries are also arriving at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, from where they will be transported on busses to Westminster Abbey.
Some 4,000 service personnel will be involved throughout the day and people have already begun to line the streets of the capital in preparation for a glimpse of the Queen’s final journey. Millions of people will be watching the funeral across the country and most workplaces are closed for a bank holiday.
Mourners converge in to pay last respect
The event is also expected to be watched by millions around the world, as the Queen was the head of state for 14 realms throughout the Commonwealth.
For those not invited, big screens have been put up in cities across the country, while some cinemas, pubs and other venues are also showing the once-in-a-generation event.
This is the first state funeral to be held since Sir Winston Churchill’s in 1965. The service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, with the Archbishop of Canterbury ,Justin Welby, giving the sermon.
The Order of Service shows a service filled with traditional church music and readings from the Bible. Towards the end, the Last Post will be played before there will be a two-minute national silence.
Following the service, the coffin will be drawn in a walking procession from the Abbey to Wellington Arch, at London’s Hyde Park Corner, to the sombre toll of Big Ben.
Gun salutes will also fire every minute from Hyde Park during the procession and people can watch in person from designated viewing areas along the route.
Once at Wellington Arch, at about 13:00, the coffin will be transferred to the new State Hearse for its final journey to Windsor Castle. There, the Queen’s coffin will enter St George’s Chapel for a committal service.
Attended by a smaller congregation of about 800 guests, the committal service will be conducted by Dean of Windsor, David Conner, with a blessing from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At a private family service later, the Queen will be buried alongside her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the King George VI memorial chapel, located inside St George’s Chapel.