The world gathered around London and television sets throughout the globe to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Monday’s state funeral was steeped in classic British tradition and ceremonial gestures, paying homage to the Queen’s wishes for her send-off.
Details of Queen’s State Funeral ServiceRead More »
The majestic Westminster Abbey Tenor Bell rang once per minute for 96 minutes prior to the start of the service, representing each year of the Queen’s remarkable life. The Queen’s four children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward followed the coffin in a quiet procession from Westminster Hall to the abbey.
The coffin was carried on the same gun carriage used during the funerals for the Queen’s father, King George VI, as well as for Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Queen’s casket was covered with a wreath of flowers cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace and other estates throughout the royal kingdom. The wreath included some of the Queen’s favorite flowers, including dahlias, myrtle, roses, and pink and gold pelargoniums.
The coffin also traveled with the monarch’s jewel-encrusted crown, sceptre, and orb. Alongside the flowers and the traditional signs of the monarchy, there was also a handwritten card from King Charles III. The card simply read, “In loving and devoted memory. Charles R.”
In addition to the Queen’s four children, her great grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, also joined the procession behind her coffin. The 9-year-old George and 7-year-old Charlotte are now second and third in line for the crown. Both children were spotted wiping tears as they said goodbye to their great grandmothers.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey performed a series of hymns, some of which have been used at every state funeral since the beginning of the 18th century. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster. The newly appointed U.K. Prime Minister, Liz Truss, read a lesson along with Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered the moving sermon.
In a perfect full circle of events, the service was conducted in the same abbey nave where the Queen was crowned 69 years earlier. It was also the same nave where she married her husband, Prince Phillip. The Queen made history when she was the first monarch coronated on live television. Nearly 70 years later, the eyes of the world were once again watching a historic spectacle unfold at Westminster Abbey.
The carefully choreographed service lasted one hour, concluding with a nationwide two-minute moment of silence. Following this silence, the mourners sang the national anthem, “God Save the King.” The service wrapped up with the Queen’s official piper playing “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep.”
Journey to Windsor Castle
The Queen made one last journey from Westminster Abbey to her final resting place at Windsor Castle following the service. Thousands of onlookers lined the 25-mile-long procession route to pay their respects to the flag-draped coffin traveling in a hearse.
The last procession of the day featured the Queen’s coffin being taken along the famous Long Walk to Windsor Castle for the formal committal service at St. George’s Chapel. It was here that the Queen was separated from her crown one last time before being lowered into the Royal Vault. The grief was palpable to all of those watching as King Charles III looked on as his mother was lowered into the vault.
The family then made their way to a reception in the castle. The last event of the day was a private burial service. The Queen will be interred with her husband of 73 years in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. This annex is also home to the remains of the Queen’s father, her mother, and her sister Princess Margaret.
Show of Military Tradition
The events of the day featured a great show of British military tradition. It was only fitting that this was showcased as the Queen was also the commander in chief of the armed forces. Members of the bearer party flanked each side of the Queen’s coffin. This party was founded by the Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards as well as 10 pallbearers that once served the Queen as equerries. Other participants included detachments of the King’s Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, The Yeomen of the Guard, and the Royal Company of Archers.
In addition to those with formal roles in the service, thousands of British service members were a part of the day’s ceremonies. These service members marched through the streets of central London along with the coffin. Armed forces members from the additional countries served by the Queen were also invited to join in the pomp and circumstance of the occasion.
The female members of the royal family paid tribute to the Queen with their jewelry choices for the day. Catherine, the Princess of Wales, honored the late monarch with her pearl necklace and earrings, the same pieces that she wore to the Queen’s husband’s funeral. The choker pearl necklace with a diamond clasp once belonged to the Queen. The set had also been worn by the late Princess Diana.
Princess Charlotte wore a dainty diamond brooch on her coat. Kensington Palace said that the horseshoe-shaped brooch was a gift to the young girl from the Queen.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wore pearl stud earrings presented to her by the Queen during the early days of her relationship with Prince Harry.
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