Queen Elizabeth’s coffin begins the journey to the final resting place

King Charles, his sons William and Harry and other senior royals joined in a solemn procession behind Queen Elizabeth’s coffin through the quiet streets of London on Monday following an unrivaled state funeral at Westminster Abbey.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to central London to witness a ceremony attended by leaders and royalty from around the world, a fitting conclusion for Britain’s longest-serving monarch who has earned widespread respect for 70 years. to the throne.

His coffin draped with a flag was towed in a tank a short distance from Westminster Hall to the Abbey by 142 sailors with their arms tied. A bell rang and bagpipes screeched.

An imperceptible silence fell over nearby Hyde Park in London as thousands of people, picnicking and chatting for hours, fell silent as the queen’s coffin appeared on the screens set up for the occasion.

Shortly before, hundreds of armed personnel in full ceremonial dress had marched in a historic display of kilts, bearskin hats, scarlet tunics, and brass bands.

Inside the abbey, the verses of the scriptures were set to music that has been used at all state funerals since the early 18th century. Among those walking behind the coffin was the queen’s great-grandson and future king, nine-year-old Prince George.

Charles, Anna, Prince Edward and William, all dressed in ceremonial military uniforms, greeted as the coffin was lifted from the wagon of arms in front of the abbey.

Princes Andrew and Harry, who are no longer royals on duty, wore morning dresses and did not say hello, although both had served in conflicts in the past, in the Falklands and Afghanistan.

After 11 days of momentous change and activity since his mother’s death, Charles looked distressed and exhausted as the drapery carried the coffin into the abbey through the Great West Door for the funeral service.

The 2,000-strong congregation included some 500 presidents, prime ministers, foreign royal families and dignitaries including Joe Biden from the United States and leaders from France, Canada, Australia, China, Pakistan and the Cook Islands.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the congregation that the pain felt by so many in Britain and around the world reflected the late monarch’s “abundant life and loving service”.

“His late Majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that his entire life would be devoted to serving the nation and the Commonwealth,” he said.

“Rarely has such a promise been kept so well. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen.”

Amid the crowds that came from all over Britain and beyond, people climbed lamp posts and stopped on barriers and stairs to catch a glimpse of the royal procession, one of the largest of its kind in modern history in the capital.

Those who had camped in the nearby streets were watching the feature on smartphones, as silence descended along the Mall, one of London’s great ceremonial avenues, as the funeral service was broadcast live through loudspeakers.

Some wore elegant black suits and robes. Others wore hoodies, leggings, and tracksuits. A woman with dyed green hair stood next to a man in a morning suit as they waited for the procession to begin.

Millions of others watched on television at home on a public holiday declared for the occasion, the first time a British monarch’s funeral was broadcast on television. Around the larger capital, the normally busy streets were deserted.

Ben Vega, 47, a Philippine nurse standing at the back of the crowd on a stool, said he was a monarchist.

“I love the glitz. I love the way the British do it,” he said. “I’m from the Philippines, we don’t have this, we don’t have royal families. It’s a sad day for me. I’ve been here for 20 years. I saw the Queen as my second mum, England as my second home.”

40th ruler of a lineage that traces his lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952, Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place in the world and was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a group that encompasses 56 countries.

When he succeeded his father George VI, Winston Churchill was its first prime minister and Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union. He met important personalities from politics, entertainment and sports including Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pele and Roger Federer.

“People who render loving service are rare in any walks of life,” Welby said at the funeral. “Leaders of loving service are even rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”

The Abbey’s tenor bell – site of coronations, weddings and burials of English and then British kings and queens for nearly 1,000 years – rang 96 times.

Among the hymns chosen for the service were “The Lord is my Shepherd,” sung at the wedding of the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, in the Abbey in 1947.

In addition to dignitaries, the congregation included those who received Britain’s highest military and civilian medals for gallantry, representatives of Queen-backed charities, and those who made “extraordinary contributions” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. .

TWO MINUTES OF SILENCE

Towards the end of the service, the church and much of the nation were silent for two minutes. Trumpets sounded before the congregation sang “God Save the King”. The Queen’s bagpiper ended the service with a moan that faded into silence.

Next, the coffin began its journey through central London, past Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s seat, to the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, with the monarch and royal family following on foot during the procession of 2, 4 km.

From there he was placed on a hearse to be taken to Windsor Castle, west London, for a service at St George’s Chapel. This ended with the crown, orb and scepter – symbols of the monarch’s power and rule – removed from the coffin and placed on the altar.

The Lord Chamberlain, the eldest official of the royal house, will break his “Office Wand”, signifying the end of his service to the sovereign, and place it on the coffin.

It will then be lowered into the royal crypt.

Later in the evening, in a private family service, the coffin of Elizabeth and her husband of more than seven decades, Philip, who died last year at the age of 99, will be buried together in the memorial chapel of King George VI, where his parents and sister, Princess Margaret, ie the rest.

“We are so happy that you are back with your grandfather. Goodbye dear grandmother, it has been the honor of our life to have been your grandchildren and we are very proud of you,” said the grandchildren, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.