With pomp and sorrow, world bids final farewell to Queen Elizabeth


  • The Queen was buried next to her late husband Prince Philip
  • Monarchs and leaders gather in London for a state funeral
  • Thousands line the streets for a display of pomp and pomp
  • Queen Elizabeth was widely revered in Britain and beyond
  • Death comes as Britain faces the risk of an economic crisis

WINDSOR, England, September 19 (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth was buried next to her beloved husband on Monday after Britain and the world bid farewell to the nation’s longest-reigning monarch in a dazzling show of pomp and calm ceremony.

Amid the formality and meticulous choreography, there were moments of raw emotion. Late in the day, an ashen King Charles held back tears, while grief was written on the faces of several members of the royal family.

Huge crowds packed the streets of London and Windsor Castle to witness the moving grand processions and ceremonies.

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“Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen,” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, told the congregation at the state funeral in majestic Westminster Abbey, where monarchs have been married, buried and crowned for the past 1,000 years.

Among the 2,000 worshipers were around 500 presidents, prime ministers, foreign royal family members and dignitaries, including Joe Biden of the United States.

Outside, hundreds of thousands had thronged the capital to pay tribute to Elizabeth, whose death at the age of 96 has prompted an outpouring of gratitude for her 70 years on the throne.

Many more lined the route as the hearse carried her coffin from London to Windsor, throwing flowers, cheering and clapping as it drove from the city into the English countryside she loved so much.

At St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, around 800 guests attended a more intimate funeral service which ended with the crown, orb and scepter – symbols of the monarch’s power and rule – being removed from the coffin and placed on the altar.

The Lord Chamberlain, the most senior official in the royal household, then broke his ‘staff’, which marked the end of his service to the sovereign, and placed it on the coffin, which then slowly descended into the royal tomb.

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As the congregation sang “God Save the King,” King Charles, who faces a major challenge in maintaining the monarchy’s appeal while Britain’s economic hardship looms, appeared to be fighting back tears.

In the same huge building, the Queen was photographed alone mourning the loss of her 73-year-old husband, Prince Philip, during the pandemic lockdown, reinforcing the sense of a monarch in sync with her people during difficult times.

Later Monday night, at a private family service, the coffins of Elizabeth and Philip, who died last year aged 99, were removed from the vault to be buried together in the same chapel where their father, King George VI, mother and Sister, Princess Margaret, also rest.

‘RICH LIFE’

At the state funeral, Welby told those present that the grief felt by so many across Britain and around the world was a reflection of the late monarch’s “rich life and loving service”.

“Her late Majesty declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be devoted to serving the nation and the Commonwealth. Seldom has such a promise been kept so well,” Welby said.

Music played again at the Queen’s wedding in 1947 and her coronation six years later. The coffin was inscribed in lines of script set on a musical score used at every state funeral since the early 18th century.

After the funeral, her flag-draped coffin was dragged through the streets of London by sailors on a gun carriage in one of Britain’s largest military processions, attended by thousands of members of the armed forces in ceremonial finery.

They walked in step to the funeral music of marching bands while the city’s famous Big Ben chimed every minute in the background. Charles and other senior royals followed on foot.

The coffin was taken from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch and loaded onto a hearse for the journey to Windsor, where more large crowds waited patiently.

Among those who came from across Britain and beyond, people climbed lampposts, barriers and ladders to catch a glimpse of the royal procession.

Some wore smart black suits and dresses. Others wore hoodies, leggings and tracksuits. A woman with dyed green hair stood next to a man in morning suit as they waited for the London procession to begin.

Millions more watched on television at home on a bank holiday declared for the occasion, the first time a British monarch’s funeral had been televised.

“I’ve been coming to Windsor for 50 years now,” said Baldev Bhakar, 72, a jeweler from the nearby town of Slough, outside Windsor Castle.

“I’ve seen her many times over the years; it felt like she was our neighbor and she was just a beautiful woman; a beautiful queen. It was good to say goodbye to our neighbor one last time.”

‘INVINCIBLE’

Elizabeth died on September 8th at Balmoral Castle, her summer home in the Scottish Highlands.

Her health had deteriorated and the monarch, who had performed hundreds of official engagements well into the 1990s, had retired from public life for months.

However, in keeping with her sense of duty, she was photographed just two days before her death, naming Liz Truss as her 15th and final Prime Minister. She looked frail, smiling and holding a walking stick.

Such was her longevity and her inseparable connection with Britain that even her own family was shocked.

“We all thought she was invincible,” Prince William told well-wishers.

The 40th sovereign in a line tracing her lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952 and became Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation as it attempted to carve out a new place in the world, and she was instrumental in the formation of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping of 56 countries.

When she succeeded her father George VI, Winston Churchill was her first prime minister and Joseph Stalin led the Soviet Union. She met major figures in politics, entertainment and sport, including Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pele and Roger Federer.

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Though she reportedly stood at 1.6m tall, she dominated the rooms with her presence and became a towering global figure, hailed to death from Paris and Washington to Moscow and Beijing. National mourning was observed in Brazil, Jordan and Cuba, countries with which it had little direct association.

“People who serve lovingly are rare in any walk of life,” Welby said during the funeral. “Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who hold onto power and privilege are long forgotten.”

The abbey’s tenor bell rang 96 times. Among the hymns selected for the service was “The Lord’s my Shepherd” which was sung at their abbey wedding.

Among the royal group that followed the coffin into the Abbey were the Queen’s great-grandson and future King Prince George, aged 9, and his younger sister Charlotte, aged 7.

Towards the end of the service, the church and much of the nation fell silent for two minutes. Trumpets sounded before the congregation sang “God save the King.” Outside, the crowds joined and erupted in applause as the anthem ended.

The Queen’s piper ended the service with a lament called “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep”.

At Windsor there was a similar poignant end to the ceremony when a lone piper walked away and left the chapel in silence.

“I’ve sung God Save the Queen my whole life,” said John Ellis, 56, an Army veteran who traveled to Windsor. “It’s going to be pretty hard to change now.”

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Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton in London and Alistair Smout in Windsor; additional reporting by William James, Kylie MacLellan, Estelle Shirbon, Humza Jilani, Andrew MacAskill, Paul Sandle, Muvija M, Sachin Ravikumar, Farouq Suleiman, Angus MacSwan, Richa Naidu, Peter Hobson, Julia Payne, Natalie Grover, Lindsay Dunsmuir, Elizabeth Pfeifer ; Edited by Mike Collett-White and Janet Lawrence

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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