The Queen’s funeral: in line with a long tradition of state ceremonies

Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London will bring together royalty, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world.

London Police say the event will be the biggest security operation ever undertaken.

But how will the funerals of other world leaders compare to those of Britain’s longest-serving monarch?

Mahatma Gandhi

The cremation of Indian Mahatma Gandhi took place on the banks of the Jumna River on February 10, 1948.

Two million people from all walks of life gathered for the ceremony.

The beloved nonviolent leader helped free the country from British rule.

He had been shot a few days earlier by a Hindu nationalist inside Birla House, New Delhi.

John F Kennedy

John F. Kennedy’s state funeral was held on November 25, 1963.

The American president had died three days earlier, assassinated in Dallas.

His body was brought back to Washington shortly after his death. His flag-draped coffin, lying in state, was seen by hundreds of thousands of mourners.

The murder caused a wave of emotion around the world.

Many leaders traveled to Washington to attend his funeral.

The day after the assassination, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took office as the 36th President of the United States.

Winston Churchill

State funerals in the UK are usually reserved for kings and queens

However, Winston Churchill’s prominent role in the 20th century made the exception.

The former wartime prime minister died on January 24, 1965 in London and was buried a week later.

Her funeral was broadcast live on the BBC – the British Broadcasting Company and became the biggest national event since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Charles de Gaulle

World leaders gathered on November 12, 1970 in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to pay tribute to former French President Charles de Gaulle.

The statesman led France against Nazi Germany in World War II and later rewrote the French Constitution and founded the Fifth Republic.

While de Gaulle did not want a state funeral, his funeral became the biggest event in French history and brought together many world leaders, including US President Richard Nixon and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

Pope John Paul II

More recently, countless officials, political and religious figures as well as religious followers were present at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome on April 8, 2005.

He was head of the Catholic Church for 26 years.

At the time, it was the largest gathering of heads of state in history outside the United Nations and surpassed Winston Churchill’s funeral.

The pope’s body was displayed as it was, first in the papal residence and later in St. Petersburg. St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Nelson Mandela

And on December 15, 2013, people across the world were moved by the death of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black head of state.

The funeral of the anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was held at Qunu in the Eastern Cape after an official service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Some 4,500 people attended, including many world leaders and foreign dignitaries.