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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Ceremonial rather than state funeral
George VI funeral
The procession on Friday will be reminiscent of 1952
The Queen Mother would have been the first to insist her funeral should in all ways adhere to Royal protocol.

There would have been no question in her mind that her passing should be marked by a ceremonial funeral rather than a state one.

The distinction is a subtle one.

State funerals are reserved for monarchs and although the Queen Mother was queen, it was her husband George VI who held the throne.

Churchill's funeral
Winston Churchill's was the last state funeral

There have been exceptions over the years.

In 1965, Winston Churchill was afforded a state funeral to honour his life as a great war leader.

His body travelled on a gun carriage from Waterloo Station to St Paul's Cathedral where it was borne up the steps by officers from the Grenadier Guards.

A precedent had been set in 1852, with the lavish state funeral of the Duke of Wellington.

Pomp and ceremony

These apart, the term "state funeral" has been reserved for reigning kings and queens.

Most of us watching, though, will notice little difference between the state and ceremonial event.

Buckingham Palace says the only visible departure is that Her Majesty's coffin will be carried by sailors rather than drawn by horses on the day of the actual funeral.

Other than that, it will be a spectacle of pomp and ceremony not seen since George VI's in 1952.

George V lying in state
The Queen Mother will lie in state like her husband

On that day, thousands of mourners lined the streets as the coffin made its last journey from London to Windsor.

During the preceding days, 70,000 a day had solemnly filed past the king's coffin in Westminster Hall.

From Friday, the Queen Mother's coffin will be lying in state in exactly the same way with access to the public.

And like the scenes in 1952 and 1965, Friday's procession will involve thousands of state leaders and members of the armed forces, to reflect the Queen Mother's public role.

Even Princess Diana's funeral, which was relayed by loud speaker to thousands of members of the public outside, was on a much smaller scale.

Break with tradition

There will be one break with the tradition, however.

The Princess Royal will join her brothers and other male members of the royal family, including Princes William and Harry, to walk behind her grandmother's coffin on Friday on the procession from St James's Palace to Westminster Hall.

Traditionally, female relatives would await the coffin at the church for the service.

It is likely, however, that Princess Anne asked her grandmother for her approval when the details for her funeral were being laid out in recent years.

And as with everything to do with this, her final journey, the Queen Mother would have been intrinsically involved in the decision making every step of the way.


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