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The queen’s coffin will leave Buckingham Palace at exactly 2:22 p.m.

On any other Wednesday, the walk from the gates of Buckingham Palace – past London’s leafy shopping center bordering St James’s Park and past power bastions such as Downing Street – would be full of tourists who would take in London’s top sights.

But this Wednesday, the Mall and surrounding areas will be closed down and hundreds of mourners, some of whom have queued for hours, will line the streets to watch a gloomy procession of the royal hearse carrying the Queen’s casket, followed on foot by King Charles III and other members of the royal family, including Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.

All of this begins at 2:22 p.m. UK time (or 9:22 a.m. Eastern), when the hearse will leave Buckingham Palace. The choice of time, for observers, seemed particularly specific. Why will the hearse leave the palace at that exact moment?

“Just arrive at Westminster Hall at exactly 3pm,” said Dickie Arbiter, who served as spokesperson for Queen Elizabeth II and media adviser to Prince Charles.

According to Mr Arbiter, the timing is of no particular significance. “The sooner it’s over, the sooner the public can be allowed to pay their respects,” he said.

The 38-minute procession is followed by a service presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of some 80 million Anglicans worldwide. The coffin is then prepared for viewing, which is open to the public until Monday.