Lying-in-state describes the formal occasion in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public to pay their respects to the deceased before the funeral ceremony.
Lying-in-state in the UK is given to the Sovereign, as Head of State, current or past consorts and rarely major public figures.
Westminster Hall is now the place where the lying-in-state of monarchs and consorts traditionally takes place. The most recent is that of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who died on 30 March 2002. Here are some of the more notable occasions of lying-in-state:
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
She lay in state for three days in Westminster Hall in 2002 before her funeral on 9 April 2002 at Westminster Abbey. An estimated 200,000 people paid their respects.
About 250,000 paid their respects to George V in 1936. At one time, the queue, in places fifteen abreast, extended to Vauxhall Bridge, across the river and back along the other side of the Thames as far as Westminster Bridge.
One of the few non-royals to receive the honour in the 20th century was Sir Winston Churchill in 1965. An estimated one million people paid their respects to Churchill.
The first-lying in state conducted in the Hall was that of William Gladstone in 1898. The reason for using Westminster Hall rather than a religious building was presumably Gladstone's long association with the Palace of Westminster.
Other monarchs or consorts who lay in state in the Hall during the 20th century included Queen Mary in 1953, King George VI in 1952 and Edward VII in 1910.
During the lying-in-state period, the coffin rests on a raised platform in the middle of Westminster Hall. Each corner of the platform is guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign's Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Members of the public are free to file past the platform and pay their respects.
All of these lyings-in-state are commemorated by tablets on the floor of the Hall. Some other events are also commemorated by plaques; these include the various state trials which took place in the Hall in the past.
Page last updated September 2015.