A solemn parade of dignitaries and VIPs is offering condolences to the family of Brian Mulroney as the former prime minister lies in state near Parliament Hill. 

A guard of honour gingerly delivered Mulroney's flag-shrouded casket before Governor General Mary Simon entered to pay her respects. 

Simon was followed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who walked in alone before greeting family members and bowing his head at the casket. 

Trudeau then lingered over a book of condolences as Mulroney's official portrait, framed by an elaborate display of flowers, loomed nearby. 

Other VIPs who were on hand early in the day included former prime minister Joe Clark and House Speaker Greg Fergus.

Members of the public who wish to pay tribute to Mulroney will be able to visit his casket in person beginning this afternoon.

In the meantime, dignitaries including Trudeau, the Governor General and cabinet ministers will spend the morning offering condolences to the family. 

On Monday, Mulroney's wife and children sat in the House of Commons gallery to hear glowing tributes and funny stories from politicians across the partisan spectrum. 

Well-wishers can visit between 12:30 and 6 p.m. today or from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday and sign a book of condolences.

Security screening is required for visitors and several downtown streets near Parliament Hill are closed.

The public will also be able to pay their respects at Montreal's St. Patrick's Basilica on Thursday and Friday.

A state funeral will be held Saturday morning at Notre-Dame Basilica, with eulogies from Caroline Mulroney, Jean Charest and Wayne Gretzky.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2024.