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 soccer club near Manchester.
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, according to Buckingham Palace. 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 surviving a stabbing by her partner while pregnant, said she had been 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.
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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 melody he had been working on with his choir. He said that perhaps there was an intention to represent the different communities in Britain 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.
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.