When was the last state funeral in the UK and who was it for?

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
RETRANSMITTING AMENDING BYLINE TO AARON CHOWN Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence and the Princess Royal stand solemnly as the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland, completes its journey from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, where it will lie in rest for a day. Picture date: Sunday September 11, 2022.
The Queen's coffin completes its journey from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. (PA)

The UK is preparing to say a final goodbye to the Queen with a state funeral.

Following her death on Thursday at the age of 96, Her Majesty's funeral will be held on Monday 19 September in Westminster Abbey.

Senior members of the family are expected to follow behind the coffin – just like they did for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The military will line the streets and also join the procession.

Heads of state, prime ministers and presidents, European royals and key figures from public life will be invited to gather in the abbey, which can hold a congregation of 2,000.

The last time the nation came together to mourn the passing of a senior royal was for Prince Philip in April 2021, when the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In line with Philip's wishes, he was not given a state funeral, instead receiving a ceremonial one. There were only 30 mourners present, in line with COVID restrictions at the time.

Her Majesty The Queen�s coffin arrives in Edinburgh on it�s way to the Palace of Holyrood having left Balmoral this morning. Credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS
The Queen's coffin arrives in Edinburgh following her death at the age of 96. (PA)

Read more: All the details about the Queen's state funeral

What does a state funeral involve?

A state funeral is a public ceremony held to honour people of national significance, which observes strict protocol.

It is a rare honour and is mostly reserved for the sovereign. The last sovereign state funeral was held in February 1952 following the death of George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father.

The only monarch not to be given a state funeral in the last 295 years was Edward VIII, who abdicated.

One of the defining factors of a state funeral is the coffin being carried on a gun carriage drawn by sailors from the Royal Navy rather than horses.

This is a tradition dating back from the funeral of Queen Victoria, after the horses drawing her coffin bolted, meaning sailors had to haul the coffin to the Royal Chapel in Windsor.

Heads of state are then given a 21-gun salute.

The funeral procession of King George VI arrives at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, 15th February 1952. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The funeral procession of King George VI arrives at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The coffin of King George VI (1895 - 1952) arrives at King's Cross Station, London, from Sandringham, 11th February 1952. The king's coffin will be drawn in procession to Westminster Hall, where it is to lie in state for three days before the funeral. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The coffin of King George VI at King's Cross Station in London before it was drawn in procession to Westminster Hall. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The cortege of the coffin of King George VI passing through the crowd in Trafalgar Square on it's way to Westminster Hall to lie in state.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The cortege of the coffin of King George VI passes through the crowd in Trafalgar Square on it's way to Westminster Hall to lie in state. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Similar to coronations and the state opening of Parliament, state funerals are organised and overseen by the Earl Marshal and his officers who are placed ahead of the coffin during the procession for the funeral.

Ceremonial royal funerals are held for members of the royal family who hold high military rank, for the consort of the sovereign and the heir to the throne.

To the outsider, there is little difference between a state funeral and a ceremonial one – both can include lying in state and a military procession.

But a state funeral may require a motion in Parliament for a non-sovereign.

Read more: Harry not allowed to wear military uniform at events mourning death of Queen - but Andrew can

When was the last state funeral in the UK?

The Queen's funeral will be the first state funeral held in the UK since 1965, following the death of Winston Churchill.

Churchill, who was the first of the Queen's 15 prime ministers, was laid to rest on 30 January that year, and was broadcast on TV live on the BBC.

It was the first state funeral of a politician in the twentieth century and the largest national event since the Queen's Coronation in 1953.

1965: File photo dated January 1965 of the procession of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill as it passes along The Strand in London. Issue date: Thursday September 8, 2022.
The procession of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill as it passes along The Strand in London in January 1965. (PA)
File photo dated 30/1/1965 of the gun carriage carrying the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill crossing Trafalgar Square, London, during his state funeral. Issue date: Thursday September 8, 2022.
The gun carriage carrying the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill crossing Trafalgar Square. (PA)
The King's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard ahead of the arrival of King Charles III and the Queen Consort at Westminster Hall, London, where both Houses of Parliament are meeting to express their condolences following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Monday September 12, 2022.
The King's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard ahead of the arrival of King Charles III and the Queen Consort at Westminster Hall, where the Queen's body will later lie in state. (PA)

His funeral began being planned 12 years prior to his death, following a stroke in 1953 while he was serving his second term as prime minister.

The last state funeral of a monarch was the Queen's father in 1952, after he died a few months after a lung operation.

He was only 56, and his passing led to the Queen taking the throne at the tender age of 25.

The King's funeral was the first of a British monarch to be broadcast on television.