Queen’s funeral: places to watch it

Thousands are expected to gather to watch in cathedrals, parks and other public venues across UK, but for those who prefer to avoid royal proceedings, there is still plenty to do

On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II will become the first monarch since George II in 1760 to have her funeral at Westminster Abbey.

The service is due to take place at 11am, after which her coffin will be taken in a walking procession from the abbey to Wellington Arch, at London’s Hyde Park Corner, and be transported by hearse to Windsor Castle and her final resting place in St George’s Chapel.

The abbey has capacity for 2,000 mourners, but unless you are one of the heads of state, prime ministers, presidents, European royals or key figures from public life specifically invited, you will not be able to attend the service in person.

Thousands are expected to travel to London, particularly to the Mall, to say their final farewells during the funeral procession, but outside the capital, hundreds of thousands more are expected to gather to watch the Queen’s funeral in cathedrals, parks and other public venues across the UK.

More than 20 cathedrals – including Chester, Guildford, Manchester, Norwich and Winchester – are hosting events to show the service.

Big screens will be erected in towns and cities to broadcast the service, at locations including Hull City Hall, Bradford Cathedral, Manchester’s Exchange Square, Millennium Square in Leeds, Lincoln Cathedral, Ripon Cathedral and the Cornhill in Ipswich.

In Birmingham, the ceremony will be shown on a large screen in Centenary Square. Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham city council, said: “Many people will want to go to London to observe this moment, but getting to the capital will be neither easy nor cheap, [so] the square will be a local, easy-to-reach space where people can reflect.”

In Coventry, the council is putting up a screen in University Square. This week, it urged people wanting to attend to “dress appropriately for the weather and think of others and not bring golf umbrellas if it is raining to ensure views are not obscured”.

Meanwhile, Exeter council is showing the funeral on a big screen in Northernhay Gardens and at Exeter City Football Club. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with doors opening at 9am. People will be allowed to bring their dogs, but alcohol is banned.

Several cinema chains are showing the funeral, but no popcorn will be available. Vue has said most of its 91 venues would be running screenings, but retail stands would be closed. However, guests will be offered complimentary bottled water during the broadcast.

Vue and Curzon have both said most of their venues have already reached capacity. Cinema chain Arc announced on Twitter: “This is a free event, but pre-booking your seat is essential. There will be no other shows taking place while the funeral is broadcast.”

Most pubs are expected to be open and showing the service. The Stonegate Group, Britain’s largest pub operator – running brands such as the Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout – has already confirmed that its venues will be showing the funeral, as has the brewer Fuller’s.

JD Wetherspoon said most of its pubs would be shut for the service, only opening at 1pm after the funeral has ended. The exception will be its pubs in railway stations and airports, and venues in central London.

Prefer to avoid the funeral altogether?

After 10 days of round-the-clock royal coverage – not to mention the phenomenon of “the queue” – you might well prefer to spend the bank holiday on something other than the funeral.

With most sports centres, high street shops, theatres, supermarkets and museums closing, your choices might feel limited. Even those cinemas that have said they will open are restricting themselves to funeral coverage.

However, there are a number of ways to avoid the royal proceedings.

You might like to get out into nature for a long walk, test your baking skills, or pop to the pub (so long as it’s not one of those screening the ceremony).

Bank holiday bike rides are allowed – after British Cycling did a swift U-turn on their original guidance recommending that cyclists should not use their bicycles during the funeral.

Blackpool’s illuminations will go dark for the night, but if you are in the north-west, Anglesey sea zoo will be open.

Plenty of beaches across the country will be open, but the Met Office has forecast only intermittent sunshine, with cloud cover and drizzle.

Other suggestions on social media include doing an online art class, “indulging in some light DIY”, getting your garden “autumn ready” and “finally getting round to categorising those holiday photos”.

If you get really stuck, you could always resort to a box set. A few episodes of The Crown, anyone?


Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

The GuardianTramp

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