Thousands attend funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

Thousands attend funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
Credit: Belga

After days of lying in state at Westminster Abbey, the funeral of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II has concluded at Westminster Abbey, in front of a crowd of several thousand onlookers within the abbey and tens of thousands more spectators outside.

An official state funeral, filled with pomp and ceremony, has not been witnessed since the last state funeral some 60 years ago for British war-time leader Winston Churchill. Today's service saw the Queen’s coffin lifted from the catafalque in Westminster Hall and transported by State Gun Carriage with 142 sailors from the British Royal Navy.

Draped in the Royal Standard, the Imperial State Crown, and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre, the procession was accompanied by the Queen’s surviving family, including the new King Charles III and Princes William and Harry.

Credit: Belga

Guards of honour from the Royal Navy and Marines lined London’s Parliament Square as the carriage was pulled by troops towards the Abbey.

Britain's highest honours

The funeral ceremony was steeped in ancient royal tradition and protocol. This is the first funeral of a monarch to be held in the abbey since the 18th century, except for the Queen Mother, who was commemorated there in 2002.

Seated at the funeral were several prominent members of British society, such as members of the royal family, former prime ministers, as well as foreign heads of state.

Notable guests included Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, King Harald V of Norway, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Phillipe, King of the Belgians.

Credit: Belga

Other guests included the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Olena, US President Joe Bidenand his wife Jill, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, European Commission President Urusla von der Leyen, and dozens of other heads of state.

Burial at Windsor Castle

Exiting Westminster Abbey, the Queen’s coffin was brought to Wellington Arch, near London’s Hyde Park Corner. To the sound of bells tolling at Big Ben, the procession moved through Hyde Park to the sound of gun salutes.

The coffin has now been transferred to a State Hearse for its final journey to Windsor Castle, one of the Royal Family’s estates, which was frequented by the deceased monarch. At the castle’s St George Chapel, the Queen’s casket will be committed alongside her late husband Prince Phillip.

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During this smaller ceremony, around 800 guests will be present, largely of the Queen’s household and private estate staff. As part of ancient tradition, Lord Chamberlain Baron Parker will break his symbolic wand of his office and place it upon the coffin, signifying the end of his service to the sovereign.

After being lowered into her final resting place, to the tune of God Save the King, a smaller, private ceremony will be held for the members of the Royal Family.

The Queen’s marble slab on her grave will read – Elizabeth II 1926-2022.

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