What Does It Mean To Lie In State?

The world collectively mourned with the September 8 death of Queen Elizabeth II. The queen left behind a legacy that some view with fondness and respect, and others find less admirable. In either case, with the death of the queen, the United Kingdom has set in motion its 10-day plan of mourning. As NPR says, Operation London Bridge involves a detailed list of processes, such as the matter of the queen's body, the funeral, and occasions of national mourning. As part of all of that, cathedrals and parliament hold tributes and reflection for the deceased. 

For dead monarchs, the matter of their body is a rather specialized process. British government won't immediately hold a funeral for Queen Elizabeth, as some people might expect. What actually happens is that the body of the queen will lie in state, during which the queen's body is held in a government building for several days until the actual funeral (via BBC). It's all part of the public mourning for Queen Elizabeth.

It's part of the national mourning process for Queen Elizabeth

To lie in state simply means to display the body of a deceased government official or ruler in public. This practice is done in many countries around the world, with each having their own customs and history behind them. As History explains, lying in state, described as a "solemn tradition," also takes place in the United States, upon the death of esteemed public individuals such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Abraham Lincoln. To date, 35 Americans have been laid in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

Approximately the same process occurs in the United Kingdom. As the official Parliament website says, lying in state is usually done in some government building, and has involved such past monarchs like King George V and Queen Mary, and Sir Winston Churchill. This process is done so that the public can come and see the coffin and/or body of the deceased official and pay respects. Queen Elizabeth II is the most recent British public figure to lie in state.

What happens to Queen Elizabeth's coffin while lying in state?

The ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II to lie in state is rather straightforward. As the U.K.'s Parliament website says, the ceremony starts with a lying-in-state period. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin was taken to Westminster Hall, then placed on a raised platform inside of the hall itself. Royal guards stay by the coffin to protect it, while anyone from the public can pass by to pay respects. 

As The Guardian says, the coffin will be in the hall until the funeral itself, which is set to take place on September 19 at Westminster Abbey, the site where Elizabeth's coronation took place in 1953 and where she married Prince Philip in 1947 (per the BBC). As expected, long queues of people lined up around the building, and were subsequently warned to not camp out. Some people have waited overnight just to pay their respects, and so portable toilets were installed around the building. As reported by security, attendance of the viewing is expected to hit close to 1 million people, making it one of the largest public events in modern British history.