The coffin was the “cheapest available” at the request of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights pioneer, according to a joint statement from his foundations.
It was transported to the cathedral by a motorcade on Thursday morning. He will remain there through Friday for visitors, with social distancing in place.
Tutu, whose work made him a revered leader during the struggle to end apartheid in his native South Africa, died on Sunday aged 90.
Memorial services have also been taking place in Johannesburg, ahead of his New Years’ Day funeral on Saturday.
One mourner at the Cathedral on Thursday, Papi Mzizi, told CNN that he had previously met the Archbishop.
“He was the moral compass of the country if you like,” Mzizi said. On a human level Tutu “never took himself seriously, he was always joking. Always bubbling, always laughing, always telling the truth,” Mzizi added.
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