LONDON — The United Kingdom fell silent on Monday as the nation bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II.
An extraordinary funeral service at London’s Westminster Abbey, attended by royalty, world leaders, foreign dignitaries and members of the British public, paid tribute to the woman who ruled the UK for seven decades and whose reign spanned the Winston Churchill era to the present day .
The hundreds who gathered in the Gothic abbey – the site of the Queen’s coronation in 1953 as well as her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947 – heard readings from the Common Book of Prayer, the Anglican Church’s traditional prayer book, and sang hymns such as “The day you gave, Lord, is ended” and “The Lord is my shepherd, I want nothing”.
While Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III, listened in, mourners including US President Joe Biden and French leader Emmanuel Macron heard from David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, as he paid tribute to the Queen’s “lifelong sense of duty and commitment”.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, stressed the Queen’s Christian faith, recalling her own words from decades ago.
“Her Majesty declared on her 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to the service of the nation and the Commonwealth,” he told those gathered. “Seldom has such a promise been kept so well.”
And he said of the Queen: “People who serve lovingly are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are even rarer. But in any case, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who hold onto power and privilege are long forgotten.”
Few leaders, Welby noted, “receive the outpouring of love that we have seen,” and noting the Queen’s address to the nation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he concluded, “We will… see you again.”
Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, and Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss – appointed by the Queen just two days before the monarch’s death – each read Bible verses from Corinthians and John.
When the service ended, Britons – who were given the day off from work and school at the end of a 10-day national mourning – observed a nationwide two-minute silence. The national anthem of the United Kingdom, the words of which have now been changed to God Save The King, then sounded from the Abbey.
A mile-long procession, led by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the British Armed Forces, the Police of Northern Ireland and staff from the country’s National Health Service, soon began its journey through the British capital. The Queen’s coffin is transported by hearse to its final resting place, St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, just outside London.
After a funeral service, the Queen’s remains will be interred alongside those of Prince Philip.