The Significant Role Big Ben Will Play In Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

At the time of writing, the United Kingdom — and the world in general — is still largely in a state of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96. Her passing came after several months of reports that documented various health concerns, including one that resulted in her hospitalization in October 2021. U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, whom the queen met with during her last public appearance on September 6, issued a statement that described her as the foundation of modern Britain as we know it. "Our country has grown and flourished under her reign," she continued. "Britain is the great country it is today because of her."

On September 19, the world will pay its final respects to Queen Elizabeth II, and it's been predicted that her funeral on that day will attract an unprecedented number of world leaders, according to the Evening Standard. While this will be the first state funeral in the U.K. in close to six decades, there is already a detailed plan in place for the event (and the days of mourning leading up to it), and that plan involves one of London's most famous landmarks, Big Ben. Of course, it's important to note that Big Ben is not the tall and impressive clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, but rather the largest of the five bells inside the structure. That bell will be heard ringing during the queen's funeral, but why is its role in the event so significant?

Big Ben will toll once to herald a national two-minute silence on the day of the funeral

Prior to the actual funeral, Big Ben will also be playing an important role. On Wednesday, September 14, the bell will toll in one-minute intervals at 2:22 p.m. U.K. time (9:22 a.m. ET) during a gun carriage procession where Queen Elizabeth II's coffin will be transported from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, according to Reuters. Once the coffin arrives at Westminster Hall at around 3 p.m., the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will conduct a short memorial service. This will herald the five-day lying in state period, and on the day of the funeral itself, Big Ben will be heard once again — just once — to mark something particularly notable during the solemn ceremony.

With the majority of shops likely closed and the London Stock Market taking a break to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's passing, the lying in state period will end at 8:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET) on September 19. At 10:44 a.m. (via BBC News), the coffin will then be transported to Westminster Abbey for the funeral, with the procession stopping at exactly 11 a.m. (6 a.m. ET) at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. At this point, Big Ben will toll once, kicking off a national two-minute period of silence. This marks the official start of the funeral, after which the late monarch will be taken to her final resting place — the King George VI Memorial Chapel at the Windsor Chapel.