Lying-in-State of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
14 September 2022
The Lying-in-State of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II took place in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, from Wednesday 14 to Monday 19 September 2022.
The Crown and Parliament
The UK is a constitutional monarchy, which means that our monarch holds a unique place in the UK’s democratic institutions. The monarch is Head of State, but only Parliament, with the authority of the Sovereign, can make or repeal any UK law.
Because of this close relationship, and because Parliament represents every corner of the UK, the Palace of Westminster is uniquely placed to both reflect and share in the nation’s deep sense of loss at this time.
Queen Elizabeth II and Parliament
Queen Elizabeth II was the longest reigning sovereign in British history. From her accession to the throne in 1952, until her death on 8 September 2022, Her Majesty visited Parliament on many occasions.
Queen Elizabeth II delivered her first Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 4 November 1952.
Her Majesty attended all but three State Openings of Parliament during her long reign and on each of these occasions delivered the Queen’s Speech in person. The exceptions were in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively, and in 2022 when Parliament was opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge acting as Counsellors of State on behalf of the Queen.
As visitors passed in front of the Palace of Westminster, before reaching St Stephen’s Entrance, they passed the Sovereign’s Entrance. This was the entrance used by The Queen when she arrived for State Openings of Parliament and its gateway was designed to be wide enough to allow the Royal Coach to drive through it. The steps leading up from the entrance are known as the Royal Staircase and are the start of the processional route taken by the monarch at State Opening.
Sovereign’s Entrance is situated at the base of the Victoria Tower, the tallest tower in the Palace of Westminster, at 98.5 metres (325 feet) high.
At the opposite end of the Palace of Westminster stands the Elizabeth Tower, recognised around the world as Big Ben’s Clock Tower. The Clock Tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 – The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year – as a tribute to Her Majesty and in recognition of her, then, 60-year reign.
There are further Jubilee tributes to Her Majesty in and outside Westminster Hall. Consisting of up to 1,500 pieces of stained glass, the Diamond Jubilee window can be seen in the three central panels of the north window in Westminster Hall. Outside Westminster Hall, in New Palace Yard, is the fountain installed in 1977 to commemorate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and a pair of bronze sculptures of the heraldic beasts of the United Kingdom commemorating Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
Westminster Hall has played a part in the life of Queen Elizabeth II as the venue for giving and receiving Addresses (formal messages) of particular importance from both Houses of Parliament. This happened most recently on 20 March 2012 to mark the occasion of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Lying-in-State of Queen Elizabeth II
Lying-in-State describes the formal occasion in which a coffin is placed on view to allow people to pay their respects before the funeral ceremony.
Visitors entered the Palace of Westminster through St Stephen’s Entrance, from where they passed into Westminster Hall.
During Lying-in-State, the coffin rested on a raised platform (catafalque) in the middle of Westminster Hall. Each corner of the platform was guarded around the clock by members of the Sovereign’s guard of the Household Cavalry, Foot Guards and The King’s Bodyguards.
Main image: the Lying-in-State of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Copyright House of Lords / Photography by Roger Harris.