The United Kingdom and the world said a final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II at a state funeral on Monday that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers – and crowds who massed along the streets of London to honour a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.
In a country known for pomp and pageantry, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s was filled with spectacle. Ahead of the service, a bell tolled 96 times – once a minute for each year of Elizabeth’s life.
Then, 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to draw the gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey before pallbearers bore it inside the church, where about 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to healthcare workers gathered to mourn her.
The trappings of state and monarchy abounded: The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and atop it sat the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and sceptre.
But the personal was also present: The coffin was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne Prince William, and nine-year-old George, who is second in line.
On a wreath atop the coffin, a handwritten note read, “In loving and devoted memory,” and was signed Charles R – for Rex, or king.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in sure confidence to commit her to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer,” the dean of the medieval abbey, David Hoyle, told the mourners as the funeral opened.
The service drew to a close with two minutes of silence observed across the UK, after which the attendees sang the national anthem, now titled God Save the King.
Monday was declared a public holiday in honour of Elizabeth, who died on September 8 – and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to partake in the historic moment.
The queen has been laid to rest with her late husband, Prince Philip, at a private family service in Windsor.
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