The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will go down in history as a remarkable event, combining centuries-old traditions and ceremonies, personal moments and a royal spectacle of great importance to the whole world.
Queen Elizabeth’s death marked the end of an era not only for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but for the many people around the world who watched on television or had their own memories of the Queen.
So what are some of these key moments that history will remember today? Here is our look:
1. Great Britain does pomp very well indeed
Every aspect of Monday’s events had been meticulously planned years, if not decades, in advance. The military personnel had rehearsed in the moonlight to make sure everything went smoothly.
And what a spectacle it was: from London’s famous Big Ben, which rang 96 times, once every minute for every year of the Queen’s life, to the pallbearers, whose composure and stoicism as they carried the coffin on their shoulders was admired by all became they saw . The pipe bands and horses, the sumptuous uniforms, the priceless glittering jewels: this was a thousand years of tradition on display to the world at the greatest single event London might have ever seen.
It went off seemingly smoothly, the most royal and somber of all occasions, bearing the grief of a nation and a family, but also displaying the finest pageantry the country could muster.
2. Traditions rooted in every aspect of today’s events
With the pageantry and spectacle of a royal funeral comes tradition: the formality of a sovereign’s burial with many aspects of history.
The carriage that carried the coffin from Westminster Abbey to Hyde Park Corner was used during the funerals of the Queen’s father and Queen Victoria – pulled by more than a hundred seamen, in a tradition first started in 1901.
During the service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the Imperial crown and the orb and scepter of the sovereign were removed from the top of the Queen’s coffin and placed on an altar, separating the Queen from her crown for the last time.
The Lord Chamberlain solemnly broke his baton and placed it on the Queen’s coffin.
The same traditional details will likely be used at the funerals of British monarchs for decades to come, but in some ways the funeral was also about making history – the first time many of the ceremonial aspects of a state funeral have been televised.
3. Personal touching moments between ceremonies
Alongside the splendor of centuries-old tradition, color and spectacle, there were quieter and more personal moments of respect and remembrance throughout the day.
Like the touching scenes when the Queen’s two favorite Corgis, Sandy and Muick, were brought into the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle for the arrival of the coffin.
Emma, a black fur pony who belonged to the Queen for 26 years, stood with a groom on the edge of the Long Way outside the palace on the lawn as the procession of coffins marched past ahead of a funeral service at St George’s Chapel.
The Queen’s affection for her dogs and horses was well known. She has owned more than 30 corgis over the course of her life. Muick and Sandy have moved into a new home with their son Prince Andrew.
Some of these moments had been decided in advance by the Queen herself, others were spontaneous statements by members of the public who brought their own signs, stuffed animals, flowers and flags to line the processional routes through the streets of London.
The regulations for Queen Elizabeth’s farewell service at Windsor Castle were planned by the late monarch for many years. She chose all the hymns except the very last one, written by her son and heir, King Charles III. was selected. The Queen’s personal piper played a lament on the bagpipes.
Most of the music played during the service was composed by Sir William Harris, who was organist in the chapel for much of the Queen’s childhood – as a child Elizabeth was often seen visiting the organ gallery to watch the composer play , especially at Christmas .
4. Who was invited and who wasn’t?
Executives from more than 100 countries around the world came to London for the funeral. There were other reigning rulers from across Europe – Many of them were related to the queen – as well as from royal families in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.
Present were past and present politicians, representatives of the UK National Health Service, members of the public and from some Commonwealth countries, and the Queen’s immediate and extended family, friends and loyal associates.
It was a time for royal brothers – Prince William and Hary – who had grown somewhat estranged in recent years to share the spotlight, even if they had little opportunity to socialize, at least in public.
But politics and current events also played a role in the funeral. There were no invitations to heads of state in Russia, Belarus or Myanmar – and because of the war in Ukraine, there was also no Russian diplomatic representation.
And while Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was unable to attend the funeral himself, his wife Olena Zelenska represented her country instead.
5. The funeral was an opportunity for people in Britain – and around the world – to come together
Hundreds of millions of people followed the funeral events as they unfolded and were beamed live around the world on television, radio and online.
And people, too, flocked to London and Windsor in their hundreds of thousands to pay their last respects and catch a glimpse of the Queen’s funeral procession passing by.
In various parts of the UK, mourners unable to travel to London watched on large screens that were set up, for example in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park.
It was a day of coming together, the last moment of a time of national mourning, when perhaps thoughts of a cost of living crisis or skyrocketing energy bills or war were put aside for a collective moment to remember the life of a woman, who touched the lives of so many people.