It’s not just princes and presidents. The guest list for the queen’s funeral also includes everyday heroes.
LONDON — At Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral, in the solemn celebration at Westminster Abbey among royalty, heads of state and prime ministers, there will be an 88-year-old London woman who records audiobooks for the blind and a man who led a campaign to save his local football club near Manchester.
Buckingham Palace has announced that along with the dignitaries and a Japanese emperor, the congregation will include almost 200 people who were honored for various forms of public service this year as part of official celebrations for the queen’s birthday. Many of those on the guest list scrambled to help during the height of the coronavirus pandemic; others made an impression with different endeavors to support their communities over the years.
Natalie Queiroz, 46, of Birmingham, who became a campaigner against knife crime after she survived a stabbing by her partner while pregnant, said she was walking her dog on Sept. 10 when she received a call from a hidden number.
“I thought it was a sales call and was going to ignore it,” she said. “Luckily, I answered, and a very posh gentleman informed me he was from the Cabinet Office” — the government department that is coordinating official mourning — “followed by a very posh invitation.”
Ms. Queiroz works with domestic abuse victims but also in schools, universities and other centers to explain the dangers of knife violence and to help teenagers find their way out of difficult times. She said that she was honored and overwhelmed by the opportunity to attend the queen’s funeral, but that she did not have anything to wear.
Some Key Moments in Queen Elizabeth’s Reign
Becoming queen. Following the death of King George VI, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, at age 25. The coronation of the newly minted Queen Elizabeth II took place on June 2 the following year.
A historic visit. On May 18, 1965, Elizabeth arrived in Bonn on the first state visit by a British monarch to Germany in more than 50 years. The trip formally sealed the reconciliation between the two nations following the world wars.
First grandchild. In 1977, the queen stepped into the role of grandmother for the first time, after Princess Anne gave birth to a son, Peter. Elizabeth’s four children have given her a total of eight grandchildren, who have been followed by several great-grandchildren.
Princess Diana’s death. In a rare televised broadcast ahead of Diana’s funeral in 1997, Queen Elizabeth remembered the Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash in Paris at age 36, as “an exceptional and gifted human being.”
Golden jubilee. In 2002, celebrations to mark Elizabeth II’s 50 years as queen culminated in a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace in the presence of 12,000 cheering guests, with an estimated one million more watching on giant screens set up around London.
A trip to Ireland. In May 2011, the queen visited the Irish Republic, whose troubled relationship with the British monarchy spanned centuries. The trip, infused with powerful symbols of reconciliation, is considered one of the most politically freighted trips of Elizabeth’s reign.
Breaking a record. As of 5:30 p.m. British time on Sept. 9, 2015, Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother. Elizabeth was 89 at the time, and had ruled for 23,226 days, 16 hours and about 30 minutes.
Marking 70 years of marriage. On Nov. 20, 2017, the queen and Prince Philip celebrated their 70th anniversary, becoming the longest-married couple in royal history. The two wed in 1947, as the country and the world was still reeling from the atrocities of World War II.
Losing her spouse. In 2021, Queen Elizabeth II bade farewell to Prince Philip, who died on April 9. An image of the queen grieving alone at the funeral amid coronavirus restrictions struck a chord with viewers at home following the event.
The required dress code, Ms. Queiroz said, was a black dress or suit and a black hat. The hat was the most challenging part, she said, but she ended up finding one online.
“I will be at the queen’s funeral with a hat from an Amazon page,” Ms. Queiroz said.
Hsien Chew, 49, who lives in London and founded Proud Voices, a network of 55 L.G.B.T.Q.+ choirs in Britain and Ireland, also received an invitation to attend the queen’s funeral, something he called a “great privilege.”
“I had a question in the back of my mind: ‘Why me?’” he said in a phone call, after he paused a Strauss symphony he had been working on with his choir. He said that perhaps there was an intention to represent the different communities in the United Kingdom and how the country had changed during Elizabeth’s reign.
“She’s seen a lot of fundamental changes to the British society,” he said. “From a community that was very parochial, quite conservative and hierarchical to one that is much more equitable with much greater plurality and much greater recognition of diversity.”
He also was taken aback by the dress code.
“The recommendation was that we wear either a morning suit or a lounge suit with decorations,” he said. “I had to quickly Google that.”
Pranav Bhanot, 34, a lawyer in Essex who during the height of the pandemic provided free assistance to people who had their lives disrupted by the virus and who helped deliver 1,200 free meals, said he was shocked when he received the invitation. “I didn’t expect it in a million years,” he said.
To him, the mix of guests at the funeral reflected the queen’s character.
“She had this really good ability to connect with very normal members of the public,” Mr. Bhanot said. “And I kind of count myself as a very normal member of the public.”
He described his feelings as “bittersweet” — a mix of sadness and excitement.
“Being in the same room as the president of the U.S.A. for me is something that I haven’t quite got my head around,” Mr. Bhanot said.