The Queen’s coffin is set to lie in state to allow the public to pay their last respects.
Lying in state is usually reserved for sovereigns, current or past queen consorts, and sometimes former prime ministers.
During the formal occasion, the closed coffin is placed on view in the vast, medieval Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster.
Contingency plans put in place in case the Queen died during the pandemic are believed to have included ticketing of the main lying in state, possibly in timed slots – an option which could still be employed.
The Duke of Edinburgh did not lie in state, which was in accordance with his wishes, but, at this point in the Covid-19 crisis, such mass gatherings were also against the law.
For a royal lying in state, the coffin is draped in a royal flag, usually a personal standard, and rests on a catafalque – a raised platform covered with a purple cloth, flanked by a military guard around the clock.
A priceless crown and other regalia are traditionally placed on top of a sovereign’s coffin.
Each corner of the platform is watched 24 hours a day by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
The last person to lie in state in the UK was the Queen Mother in 2002.
On top of her coffin in Westminster Hall was her coronation crown, set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond, and a hand-written message from her daughter, the Queen, reading: “In loving memory, Lilibet”.
It was the first lying in state where members of the public were subjected to a security check, which slowed the movement of the mourners.
At their longest, queues stretched across Lambeth Bridge and all the way along the South Bank to Southwark Cathedral, with people being warned to expect a wait of up to 12 hours at peak times.
Police were drafted in to deal with the security, large crowds and road closures.
Such were the numbers of people waiting that Scout volunteers were called in to help out and the London Ambulance Service issued warnings to people to wrap up warm and take a hot drink.
Edward VII set the modern tradition of royal lying in state in Westminster Hall.
He lay in state in 1910, as did King George V in 1936 and King George VI in 1952.
George VI – the Queen’s father – was the last sovereign before Elizabeth II to die.
On top of his coffin, from the Crown Jewels, lay the Imperial State Crown, the Orb, and Sceptre.
More than 300,000 people queued day and night in bitter, frosty conditions to say their final goodbyes to the king.
When she died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in 1901, a semi-private lying in state was arranged for three days to allow Victoria’s servants and friends to pay their respects.
Two prime ministers – William Gladstone in 1898 and Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 – also lay in state at Westminster Hall, attracting hundreds of thousands of people.
Just like the Queen Mother, Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, also lay in state when she died in 1953.
The widow of Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, lay in state in 1925, but in Westminster Abbey, not Westminster Hall.
There was even a lying in state for the abdicated Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, who lay in state for two days in the nave of St George’s Chapel when he died in 1972. Some 58,000 people turned out to see his coffin.
But there was no lying in state for Diana, Princess of Wales, who was not an HRH when she died, nor a sovereign’s consort.
In 1930, there was an unusual lying in state in Westminster Hall for the victims of the R101 Airship disaster.
The experimental rigid British airship caught fire as it crossed northern France, killing 48 of the 54 people on board.
The House of Commons was in recess at the time, and the decision to arrange the lying in state for the 48 coffins seems to have been taken by the King, George V, on the advice of ministers.
It is likely that the Queen’s children or even grandchildren will honour her with a vigil and join the guard over the coffin at some point – a tradition which has been called the Vigil of the Princes.
This has happened on two occasions.
The Queen Mother’s four grandsons – the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Linley, now the Earl of Snowdon – stood guard over her coffin in her honour in 2002 as people continued to walk through Westminster Hall.
The vigil has so far only been carried out by male members of the family.
There was no such vigil for George VI – when he died, he had two daughters and his grandchildren were very young.
Should the Princess Royal stand guard for the Queen, she will be the first female member of the royal family to do so.
Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, is the oldest part of the parliamentary estate and forms part of the Westminster Unesco World Heritage Site.
The building has been the site of key events throughout history, such as the trial of Charles I, coronation banquets, and addresses by world leaders.