Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on September 8, 2022 after a record 70 years on the throne – Copyright POOL/AFP Oli SCARF
Queen Elizabeth II is buried on Monday after a grand state funeral attended by leaders from around the world and a historic final ceremonial journey through London’s crowded streets.
The longest-serving monarch in British history died at the age of 96 at Balmoral, her haven in Scotland, on September 8 after a year of failing health.
The last state funeral in the UK was held in 1965 for the country’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill.
Then the cranes that once unloaded the spoils of the vast British empire Elizabeth had inherited were lowered as his coffin was barged up the Thames.
In the six decades since then, Britain’s global reach has dwindled considerably and its place in the modern world has become less certain.
But the country will still dig into its centuries-old traditions to honor the only monarch most Britons have ever known.
Many common people camped out for several days to witness the elaborate spectacle and pay their respects.
Following the funeral, the Queen’s flag-draped coffin, surmounted by the stately Imperial State Crown, will be carried west to Windsor Castle.
She will be buried alongside her father, King George VI, mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and sister, Princess Margaret, reuniting the family that once called itself “the four of us” after death.
The coffin of her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year at the age of 99, will also be moved to lie next to her.
– VIPs –
Elizabeth’s funeral is very different from Philip’s at St George’s Chapel in Windsor last April.
Coronavirus restrictions have limited the number of mourners to 30, led by the queen, a lone figure in mourning black and a matching face mask.
On Monday, more than 2,000 people, including heads of state from US President Joe Biden to Japan’s reclusive Emperor Naruhito, will gather at Westminster Abbey, a spectacular site of royal coronations, marriages and funerals for more than 1,000 years.
The Queen’s eldest son and successor, King Charles III, 73, will lead the mourners along with his three siblings and heir Prince William.
Late Sunday evening, Charles said he and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, were “deeply moved” by messages of condolence and support.
“As we all get ready to say our last goodbye, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you,” he added.
The Queen’s death has brought back two of the most controversial members of the royal family – the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, and Charles’ youngest son, Prince Harry.
On the Abbey’s pews will also be Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen as the 15th British Prime Minister of her reign just two days before her death.
All living predecessors of Truss will also be there, as well as her colleagues and representatives from 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK, where Charles is also head of state.
Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be a defining feature of Charles’ reign.
– “The Last Debt” –
The Queen’s death prompted deep reflection on the Britain she ruled, the legacy of her past, her current state and what the future might hold, and the values of lifelong service and duty she came to represent during her 70th birthday. board. .
“She was the glue that held the country together,” Andy Sanderson, 46, a supermarket manager who was one of the last members of the public to pay their respects as her coffin stood at the site, told AFP.
Approximately 6,000 troops were called to participate in the solemn procession to and from the abbey, on the way to Windsor and at the service in St. George’s Chapel.
A senior British military officer, Chief of the Defense Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin, called it “our last duty for Her Majesty the Queen”, their late commander-in-chief, and the first for Charles.
The Abbey service itself, part of the largest police security operation in London’s history, starts at 11:00 (10:00 GMT).
In less than an hour, the bugler will play “The Last Post” before two minutes of silence and a paraphrase of the national anthem “God Save the King”.
Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu said the queen, who led the Protestant Church of England founded by King Henry VIII in the 16th century, didn’t want a “boring” farewell.
“You will be raised to glory when you hear the service,” he told BBC television on Sunday.
– Big Ben is calling –
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have been queuing, sometimes up to 25 hours and even all night, to get past the Queen’s coffin since it was taken to the hospital last Wednesday.
The doors to Westminster Cave Hall in the UK Parliament will close at 6:30 a.m. before the coffin is transferred to the state gun carriage and taken by the Royal Navy to the abbey.
After the service, Charles and other high-ranking members of the royal family will once again proceed in procession past the hushed crowd to the waiting hearse and the final journey to Windsor.
Big Ben will ring everywhere, the giant bell atop the Elizabeth Tower at one end of the Houses of Parliament, and cannons will fire at one-minute intervals.
A wide TV audience around the world is expected to watch the funeral and watch online live as a token of the enduring fascination with the woman who was once called “the world’s last monarch”.
But E. J. Kelly, 46, who traveled with two colleagues from Northern Ireland to take a seat on Saturday’s procession route, said there was no substitute for his presence.
“Watching it on TV is great, but being here is something else,” the primary school teacher told AFP.
“I may be very excited when it comes down to it, but I wanted to be here to pay my respects.”
At Windsor, her crown, orb, and scepter will be removed and placed on the altar.
The highest-ranking official of the royal court, the Lord Chamberlain, symbolically breaks his “service baton” and places it on the coffin.
A heavy oak casket, lined with lead, adorned with the Queen’s flowers, is then lowered into the Royal Vault as a lone bagpiper plays a lament.
A private burial ceremony will take place at the nearby King George VI Memorial Chapel at 18:30 GMT.