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Queen’s funeral set to be ‘largest farewell this country’s ever staged’: Royal biographer

Click to play video: 'Queen Elizabeth makes final journey back to Buckingham Palace'
Queen Elizabeth makes final journey back to Buckingham Palace
WATCH: Queen Elizabeth makes final journey back to Buckingham Palace – Sep 13, 2022

The funeral for Queen Elizabeth II is going to be the “largest farewell” the U.K. has ever held, according to royal biographer Robert Hardman.

The U.K. is currently going through 12 days of mourning following the passing of the queen last Thursday, with the funeral scheduled to be held on Sept. 19.

“What we’re seeing this week and what we are going to see on Monday is of an order of magnitude we simply haven’t seen before,” Hardman told Global National host Dawna Friesen.

Hardman is the author of Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II and has covered the British monarchy for three decades.

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The last time anything like this happened, he said, was in 2002: the funeral of the Queen Mother.

“That wasn’t a state funeral, but still, more than a million people turned out to see her on her way down to Windsor,” Hardman explained.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Westminster Hall to lie in state

Before the Queen Mother, there was the funeral for Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997. The tragedy was felt around the globe, prompting “the whole world” to watch her funeral on television or elsewhere.

Still, Hardman noted of Diana’s funeral, “it wasn’t the end of a reign. It wasn’t the end of someone who’d been part of everybody’s lives for seven decades.”

“I mean no disrespect to Diana, but I do think this is this is different. This is much, much bigger,” he added.

“Former U.K. prime minister Winston Churchill died in 1965. After his death, “the whole nation came to a halt to watch (the funeral),” Hardman said.

When the last monarch — Queen Elizabeth II’s predecessor, King George VI — passed away, it was in 1952. That was a very different time in a number of ways, the biographer noted.

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Click to play video: 'Thousands gather to view the journey of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin'
Thousands gather to view the journey of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin

It was the “black and white era,” when television was less developed than what we see today. On top of that, people “couldn’t get around so much,” Hardman said. In fact, the year King George VI passed away was the same year the first jet aircraft entered commercial service, according to Wired.

Despite these challenges, King George VI’s funeral, according to Hardman was still “enormous.”

When the queen is laid to rest on Monday, people will be arriving from around the world to share their sympathies, Hardman explained.

“I just hope that the authorities are wise enough to build enough space into the route to accommodate not just the people who are coming from all over Britain for this, people coming from Canada — I met some — people coming from Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth, but all (over) the whole world,” he said.

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The queen’s coffin was brought from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in London on Wednesday. Despite the fact that this arrival was not an official event, Hardman said the roads were “absolutely solid” for what he estimated as “15 miles.”

Read more: Queen Elizabeth’s lying in state in Westminster: Here’s what to know

From Wednesday evening until Monday morning, the queen will lie in Westminster Hall, where members of the public can pay their respects. According to a report from the Telegraph, the line for the viewing is currently five miles long with roughly 400,000 people expected to be able to see the queen while she lies in state, if everything runs smoothly.

However, those in line can expect a grueling wait, according to the U.K. government.

“Please note that the queue is expected to be very long. You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit down, as the queue will keep moving,” it warned on its website.

“Please consider this before you decide to attend or bring children with you.”

Click to play video: 'Queen’s death triggers wave of complex emotions'
Queen’s death triggers wave of complex emotions

While some of the rituals and ceremonies taking place during these 12 days may seem “extraordinary” in this day and age, Hardman said this is part of the way the monarchy “anchors this in history.”

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“It doesn’t need to be done. I mean, I suppose you could say none of this needs to be done. One could have a very simple funeral to move on,” he said.

“But ceremonies – simple and ritual – are so important in all our lives in many different ways, and that sort of all comes together with the monarchy.”

When the time comes for the queen to be laid to rest on Monday, the royal biographer says it’s a given that the day will be extraordinary.

“Monday — you ain’t seen anything like it, ever,” Hardman said.

“I can safely say that.”

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