Image Credit: AFP

London: Queen Elizabeth II left Buckingham Palace on Wednesday for the final time as her coffin began its journey to Westminster Hall, where the late monarch will lie in state.

The queen's coffin, draped in the royal standard and topped with the Imperial State Crown, was borne on a horse-drawn gun carriage out of the front gates of her London residence at 2.22 pm (1322 GMT).

Huge crowds gathered in central London to witness the latest in a series of poignant ceremonies who died last week aged 96 after seven decades on the throne.

Lying on a gun carriage, covered by the Royal Standard flag and with the Imperial State Crown placed on a cushion on top alongside a wreath of flowers, the coffin bearing Elizabeth's body began a slow, sombre procession from her palace home to Westminster Hall, where it will lie in state for four days.

Walking directly behind were Charles and his siblings, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

In a group following them were Charles's sons Princes William and Harry, a doleful scene reminiscent of when, as boys 25 years ago, they followed the casket of their mother Princess Diana when it was taken on a similar procession through central London.

It was also a symbolic show of unity as William, 40, now the Prince of Wales, and Harry, 37, the Duke of Sussex, are now said to be barely be on speaking terms after a bitter falling out in the last couple of years.