The world is saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday as the state funeral for the 96-year-old British monarch takes place.
Elizabeth, who sat on the throne for 70 years, died on Sept. 8 in her beloved Scottish residence, Balmoral Castle, alongside members of her family. Her son, King Charles III, ascended to the throne and became head of state for the United Kingdom, Canada and other Commonwealth Nations.
Following her death, the United Kingdom plunged into 10 days of mourning. Mourners in Scotland were able to pay their respects to the queen in the days after her death, before she was taken to London to lie in state at Westminster Hall.
Between Wednesday and Monday, an expected 750,000 people passed through Westminster to see and say goodbye to the queen. At one point on Friday, the queue was paused after it reached capacity. Well-wishers waited several hours for a chance to pay their respects to the queen over the duration of the lying in state.
World leaders arrived in London on the weekend for the state funeral. U.S. President Joe Biden, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, alongside several of his predecessors, are in attendance. Roughly 2,000 people are expected to attend the state funeral, Britain’s first since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.
It will take place at Westminster Abbey, starting at 6 a.m. ET. The queen’s coffin will be born in procession on the state gun carriage of the royal navy from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey for the funeral. The state funeral will be followed later in the day by a smaller committal service at Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth will be buried alongside her late husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last year.
A woman born into the Royal Family, Elizabeth was never expected to become queen.
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Born April 21, 1926, her life took a wild turn — one of immeasurable consequence — when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936, passing the crown and all its duties to his brother, young Elizabeth’s father.
In one fell swoop, she was next in line to the throne.
Her accession in 1952 came earlier than many expected, when she was just 25. Her father had succumbed to his many illnesses, including lung cancer, leaving the throne vacant for his young daughter. Her actual coronation took place in 1953 in Westminster Abbey; she was crowned queen at age 27.
Over the course of her reign, Elizabeth would lead the U.K. and Commonwealth through the Cold War and space race, revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe, the advent of the Internet, the British Invasion, the War on Terror and London tube bombings, and the establishment of the European Union, not to mention in her later reigning years SARS, Brexit and COVID-19.
In Canada, Louis St. Laurent was prime minister when the queen ascended the throne and became this country’s sixth sovereign since Confederation. She went on to meet almost every successive prime minister — at least, those who were in office long enough. There was a special moment in 2015 when she met Trudeau, whom she’d met as a child decades prior, when his father was prime minister.
Throughout Elizabeth’s reign though, at least 25 countries declared independence from the monarchy and others, including Canada, loosened their ties. Most recently, Barbados severed ties with the monarchy in November 2021.
Despite the abolishment of the monarchy in some nations, her personal popularity remained strong and is often credited for the monarchy’s survival through modern times.
In terms of length of reign, Elizabeth lags only French King Louis XIV, who sat on the throne for 72 years.
She leaves behind her children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
— with files from Global News’ Chris Jancelewicz
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