Britain bid its final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, honoring its longest-serving monarch with a state funeral that provided pomp in solemn circumstances, drew dignitaries from around the world and captivated a global TV audience .
The 1-hour event inside Westminster Abbey, bringing together 2,000 people, followed 11 days of national mourning and highly choreographed public ceremonies. Then the Queen’s coffin, topped with symbols of state, made its slow procession through the streets of London en route to Windsor for smaller ceremonies and a burial later on Monday.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to the vicinity of Buckingham Palace, hoping to catch a glimpse of the procession on its way and to pay their last respects to a character whose life, for many, served as a model for a great modern monarch.
“She’s been a part of our lives forever,” said Angie Judge, who along with her sister, Maureen, had woken up before dawn to make sure they found places in Hyde Park to watch the funeral on a screen. giant. Both women wore crisp white T-shirts with the words “Forever in our hearts” printed above a portrait of the Queen.
“It will never be the same again. I love Charles, but I can’t say ‘God save the king’ yet,” Judge said, referring to the new King Charles III.
Prior to her death Sept. 8, Elisabeth ruled for a record 70 years which saw Britain rise from the ashes of World War II and finally enter the digital age. Before the funeral began on Monday morning, Westminster Abbey’s largest bell rang once a minute for 96 minutes to mark each year of the late monarch’s life.
His coffin, which had lain undisturbed in the Houses of Parliament for more than four days for hundreds of thousands of mourners to parade, was fired at a gun carriage by an honor guard until the Abbey, the former church where Elizabeth was married in 1947 and crowned in 1953. Among those walking behind the car were Charles, his sister and two brothers, and his two sons, Harry and William, who is now in the front line of the throne.
Eight pallbearers from the Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carried the coffin inside for the service, which began at 11 a.m. sharp when David Hoyle, the Dean of the Abbey, urged worshipers to pray in “a church where remembrance and hope are sacred duties. “
Attendees included the Royal Family, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, the Kings of Spain and Belgium, Emirs from the Middle East, other heads of government and selected members of the British public, most of them having known no other sovereign than Elizabeth.
“With gratitude we remember her unwavering commitment to a high calling for so many years as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth,” Hoyle said. “With admiration, we remember his sense of duty and his devotion to his people. We remember with affection his love for his family and his commitment to the causes dear to him.
Outside, some people had lined up overnight to access designated viewing areas, which as of 10 a.m. were packed, with police sealing off the entrance to the mall, the wide boulevard leading to the palace of Buckingham, and directing the endless stream of people towards Hyde. To park. Street vendors did a good business selling all things Britannia, including Union Jack hats, shawls, flags and other trinkets.
When the congregation inside Westminster Abbey rose for the first hymn, the entire Hyde Park crowd also rose from their blankets and lawn chairs and remained standing until the end of song. One of the two scripture readings was delivered by Liz Truss, the British Prime Minister, whom the Queen has formally appointed to the post. just two days before his deathreflecting the sense of duty that endeared her to her subjects across the UK.
“She just summed up what the country was like and what it means to be British,” said Dan Schofield, who traveled from outside London with his wife and two daughters. “We just wanted to pay homage and for our children, when they are older, to be able to say that they were here.”
But not all Britons shared equally at the time. Many were going about their daily business or finding other ways to enjoy this unexpected holiday.
Tina Thorpe, a Londoner, said the total UK media coverage over the past week was too much.
“I think it’s going too far,” said Thorpe, 62. “It’s interesting, but I don’t like the endless royal commentary. We are told how to mourn.
Thorpe said she loved celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in the summer and had a street party, but it was more about bringing the community together. The Queen’s death has spread news of anything else.
“What’s going on In Pakistan? What’s happening in the rest of the world? And Ukraine? said Thorpe.
Such concerns were put aside inside the abbey, where Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, delivered a homily that ended with the words “We’ll meet again” – an echo of a message delivered by the Queen during the COVID-19 pandemic to comfort those who had lost loved ones. His use of the phrase was itself taken from the song “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynnan iconic piece in WWII Britain.
Shortly after, a military bugler played the Last Post, similar to Taps in the United States, signaling the conclusion of the service and the start of a two-minute silence in remembrance of the Queen. There was a calm that hung heavy outside the Abbey walls: take-offs and landings at London’s Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest in the world, were suspended for half a hour so as not to disturb the silence. In Hyde Park, many stood straight as chopsticks, their heads bowed in a moment of uniform solemnity remarkable for a crowd of this size.
Funeral attendees then sang the national anthem, with some speaking the words “May God Save the King” for the first time. A final lament from the Queen’s piper ended the service.
Then, as the sun broke through the thick cloud cover that had blanketed London in the morning, Royal Navy sailors carried the coffin once more to Wellington Arch, to the sound of a funeral march backed by the sound of Big Ben and the loud sound of artillery guns. . The coffin was loaded onto a hearse, which drove to Windsor Castle, where the Royal Family are due to rest the Queen in a private ceremony in St Petersburg. Chapel of Saint-Georges.
After the funeral, the tables outside the Quebec City pub just opposite Hyde Park quickly filled up.
“To the Queen,” said a group of three friends as they clinked glasses of Guinness beer and watched BBC’s continuing coverage of the procession on a mobile phone.
Reflecting on “the end of an era”, Zoe Dearsley marveled at the Queen’s seven decades of service.
“She’s served all this time with such grace. Being 96, two days away from death and still doing her duty, meeting Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, probably the last thing she wanted to do, that’s all simply remarkable.
Her boyfriend, Dan Ellis, said that as a native of South Africa he had always been a little less enamored with the British monarchy, but still recognized the Queen’s dedication and endurance.
“I’m a bit skeptical of the monarchy in general, but it had such character,” he said. “She was the best of leaders.”
Bulos, Stokols and Chu are editors. Boyle is a special envoy.