Elizabeth II’s Funeral Draws Leaders to UK Amid Pageantry, Hymns - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- The evocative bugle call of the “Last Post” echoed around a hushed Westminster Abbey as Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral drew to a close -- a poignant mark of remembrance and gratitude for the UK’s longest-serving monarch.
After four extraordinary days in which hundreds of thousands of people queued for miles to pay tribute to the Queen at her lying-in-state in London’s Westminster Hall, Monday’s funeral and subsequent journey to her final resting place in Windsor were the last public moments for a woman who dutifully reigned over her country for 70 years.
Global leaders and dignitaries from US President Joe Biden to Emperor Naruhito of Japan were among 2,000 guests who gathered in the abbey for the historic funeral, described by government officials as the biggest international event the UK has held in decades, possibly ever.
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Millions of people across Britain watched the hour-long event on television or on big screens in public spaces, as many businesses closed for an official public holiday to allow workers to remember Elizabeth, the only monarch most have ever known. Crowds thronged the streets of central London and the route to Windsor Castle to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s coffin, draped with the Royal Standard.
The Queen’s death on Sept. 8 ushered in an era of uncertainty for the UK, coming just two days after her appointment of a new prime minister, Liz Truss. Politics came to an abrupt halt just hours after Truss announced a sweeping package to help people facing a cost-of-living crisis that is likely to define her premiership.
On Monday though, such questions were swept aside as global attentions focused on Elizabeth’s final farewell -- Britain’s first state funeral since the death of wartime leader Winston Churchill in 1965.
Westminster Abbey was packed not only with heads of state and European royalty, but representatives of charitable causes the Queen supported and members of the public who helped with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Israel’s Isaac Herzog, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Canada’s Justin Trudeau were among the foreign leaders present. A host of former UK prime ministers were also in attendance, including Boris Johnson, Tony Blair and John Major.
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Delivering the sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described Elizabeth as “joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.” He recalled her pledge at the age of 21 to dedicate her life to serving the people of the UK and the Commonwealth. “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” he said. “Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.”
As Elizabeth’s coffin was carried into the abbey on the shoulders of soldiers from the Queen’s Company Grenadier Guards, the Sentences were sung by the choir. These lines of scripture set to music have been used at every state funeral since the early 18th century.
Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla immediately followed the coffin, with members of their family close behind, including Prince William, heir to the throne, his wife Princess Catherine, and their nine-year-old son George and seven-year-old daughter Charlotte.
During the service, Truss read a lesson from the Gospel of John. That was followed by the hymn “The Lord’s my Shepherd”, a personal favorite of the Queen which was sung at her wedding in 1947 to Philip Mountbatten.
The abbey fell into a two-minute silence after the echoing notes of the “Last Post”. Guests then joined to sing the national anthem “God Save The King” before hearing a lament from the Queen’s personal piper.
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Then began a solemn procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch, with Charles leading royal family members behind the gun carriage as Big Ben tolled at one-minute intervals.
— Bloomberg UK (@BloombergUK) September 19, 2022
Crowds had lined Constitution Hill and the border of Hyde Park since the early hours of the morning, buttoned up against the cold and with the odd Union flag fluttering in the wind. The mood was somber, with the music of the procession overlaid by shouts as soldiers were called to attention and by the periodic thud of ceremonial gunshot.
Some had chosen to camp overnight on the Mall to claim the best viewing spots. Kate Knowles, a nurse from Nottingham, came with her sister Sally Waddington, from York. They camped out near Parliament Square on Sunday evening to stake out a spot nearby for the funeral.
“Something that was very special was that all through the night we could see the lights coming through the windows of Westminster Hall,” where the Queen was lying in state, said Knowles.
Janine Michael, 43, who works in education, had sat on a blanket on the edge of Hyde Park with her partner and teenage children since 6 a.m, having driven from the New Forest in Hampshire, southern England.
“When we heard the news a couple of weeks ago, I just felt I wanted to come up to London to be here,” Michael said. “It’s a historic event, and something the children will be able to look back on.”
The Queen’s coffin was transferred to the state hearse at Wellington Arch before traveling by road to Windsor Castle. The band played the national anthem as it pulled away, to cries, cheers and clapping from onlookers.
A committal service, attended by 800 people including some of the Queen’s household staff and foreign dignitaries, was held later on Monday in St George’s Chapel at Windsor.
Just before the final hymn, the imperial state crown, the orb and scepter were moved from the Queen’s coffin to the altar -- signifying the separation from Elizabeth of her so-called instruments of state for the last time.
The Lord Chamberlain, an official appointed by the monarch, then broke his “wand of office” and placed it on her coffin -- a ceremonial tradition bringing her reign to an end.
Later in the evening, her family will attend a private interment service where the Queen will be placed next to her husband, Philip, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. Described by Elizabeth as her “strength and stay,” the Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021, aged 99.
No date has been set for the coronation of Charles, the eldest of Elizabeth’s four children, who became king automatically at his mother’s death. At 73, he is the oldest person to accede to the throne in British history.
(Updates throughout with details of final procession to Windsor)