Britain and the world bid sombre, final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II
Huge crowds gathered in London to watch as the queen’s flag-draped coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and sceptre, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament’s Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday.
To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage — used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria’s in 1901 — was then drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey.
The thousand-year-old church’s tenor bell tolled 96 times at one-minute intervals — one for every year of her life — and stopped a minute before the service began at 11:00 am (1000 GMT).
Despite the heavy presence of the security agencies and entreaties to open the roads, the protesters stood their ground.
They occupied the Ajao Estate/Oshodi corridor into the airport with their vehicles, disrupting vehicular and human movements for other people to pass by.
People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer,” he told the 2,000 guests, who included US President Joe Biden and Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.
The coffin was then borne, to the rhythmic strains of funeral marches, on a three-hour journey through the streets of London to Windsor Castle, west of the capital.
All along the route, a sea of arms were raised aloft, clutching mobile phones, to record the choreographed display of military precision.
The last chants of “God save the queen” were heard as onlookers scattered flowers on the road, and muffled church bells rang in the distance.
A private burial took place late Monday in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the official website of the royal family said.
“The Queen was buried together with the Duke of Edinburgh,” a statement said, referring to her husband of 73 years Prince Philip who died last year.
Army veteran Robert MacDonald, 48, was among the dense crowd lining the three-mile (five-kilometre) Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle.
“I was in the infantry for 26 years, so the queen was my boss,” he said, adding he wanted to “salute one last time as the hearse passed by”.
On the Long Walk, the military cortege passed by the late queen’s Fell pony, Carltonlima Emma, standing without a rider. It was met at the castle by her last two corgi dogs, Muick and Sandy.
The queen — the longest-serving monarch in British history — died at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on September 8 after a year of declining health.
Her eldest son and successor, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn processions in London, alongside his three siblings.
They were accompanied by Charles’s eldest son Prince William, William’s estranged brother, Prince Harry, and other senior royals.
William’s two eldest children, George, aged nine, and Charlotte, aged seven, also walked behind the coffin in Westminster Abbey.
Late Sunday, Charles, 73, and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, 75, said they had been “deeply touched” by the public’s flood of messages.
“I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you,” Charles said.
Britain, a country much changed since the queen’s coronation in the same abbey in 1953, has dug deep into its centuries of tradition to honour the only monarch most of its people have ever known.
‘Moment of history’
“It’s once in a lifetime,” said student Naomi Thompson, 22, camped out in the crowds at London’s Hyde Park.
John MacKinnon, a 49-year-old insurance broker from London, added: “The ceremony was perfect in every way.
“Very spectacular, as it should be for a great queen.”
Others unable to be in London gathered in cinemas and churches around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to watch the service and procession on big screens.
Auto engineer Jamie Page, a 41-year-old former soldier, stood on Whitehall to observe the funeral procession, wearing his military medals from service in the Iraq war.
“She means everything, she was like a gift from God,” he said.
The funeral — watched by the crowds in silence — lasted just under an hour.
It ended with trumpeters playing “The Last Post”, two minutes of silence in memory of the queen and the reworded national anthem, “God Save the King”.
Oscar-winning actor and Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Kenneth Branagh was in attendance, telling AFP it was “very solemn and done with great compassion”.
“The music was very beautiful. It felt beautifully judged, respectful and sensitive,” he said.
Driven to Windsor
The long procession filed past Downing Street, government buildings in Whitehall, through Horse Guards Parade and up The Mall, the tree-lined avenue that leads to Buckingham Palace decked out in red, white and blue.
At nearby Wellington Arch, 6,000 members of the armed forces who had marched in hypnotic lockstep halted and the coffin was transferred to the royal hearse.
Charles saluted and the national anthem played again before the hearse headed by road to Windsor Castle.
The queen was buried alongside her father king George VI, her mother queen Elizabeth and sister princess Margaret, reuniting in death the family who once called themselves “us four”.
The coffin of her husband Philip, who died last year aged 99, was transferred to lie alongside her.
Elizabeth’s funeral could not be more different from Philip’s at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in April 2021.
Coronavirus restrictions limited mourners to just 30, led by the queen, a solitary figure in mourning black and a matching facemask.
In contrast on Monday, the abbey was packed with dignitaries and some ordinary Britons who were honoured for their military or community service, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years; we all were,” Biden said on Sunday after signing a book of condolence. “The world is better for her.”
In the abbey pews was Liz Truss, whom the queen appointed as the 15th British prime minister of her reign just two days before her death, in her last major ceremonial duty.
All of Truss’s living predecessors were there plus her counterparts and representatives from the 14 Commonwealth countries outside Britain where Charles is also head of state.
Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be the defining feature of Charles’s reign.