What is a catafalque?

What is a catafalque?

Related video: King Charles and siblings hold vigil over Queen Elizabeth's coffin in Westminster Hall


The lengthy queue to pay tribute to the late Queen lying-in-state has astonished members of the public, but one peculiar word – catafalque – is also leaving people awestruck.

UK searches for the term surged last night, after it was reported a man had been arrested over a “disturbance” at Westminster Hall, where the late monarch’s coffin has been placed for mourners to pay their respects.

The incident took place at around 10pm on Friday, with a spokesperson for the UK parliament saying in a statement: “We’re aware of an incident in Westminster Hall, in which a member of the public moved out of the queue and towards the Catafalque.

“They have now been removed from the Hall and the queue restarted with minimal disruption.”

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said: “Around 22:00hrs on Friday 16 September, officers from the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command detained a man in Westminster Hall following a disturbance.

“He was arrested for an offence under the Public Order Act and is currently in custody.”

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So what exactly is a catafalque?

Well, according to the Collins Dictionary, it’s a “temporary raised platform on which a body lies in state before or during a funeral”. It’s pronounced ‘cat-aff-falk’.

Makes sense, but Twitter users were amazed by the UK parliament’s use of the term, with many expressing their delight at finding out what the word actually means:

As well as the incident involving the catafalque, Friday evening also saw King Charles and his siblings take part in the Vigil of the Princes for a 15-minute tribute.

He was joined by Prince Edward, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne in Westminster Hall for the silent vigil at around 7.30pm.

If you want to see the catafalque for yourself and pay your respects to the late Queen, the UK government’s live tracker is currently giving a waiting time of up to 16 hours, with the back of the queue at Southwark Park.

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