Queen Elizabeth II mourned by Britain and world at funeral
The United Kingdom and the world bade farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday with a state funeral that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers — and crowds in the streets of London and at Windsor Castle — to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.
n a country known for pomp and pageantry, the first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s was filled with spectacle: Before the service, a bell tolled 96 times — once a minute for each year of Elizabeth’s life. Then, 142 Royal Navy sailors used ropes to draw the gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey, where pallbearers carried it inside and about 2,000 people ranging from world leaders to health care workers gathered to mourn.
The trappings of state and monarchy abounded: The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and atop it was the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and scepter.
But the personal was also present: The coffin was followed into the church by generations of Elizabeth’s descendants, including King Charles III, heir to the throne Prince William and 9-year-old George, who is second in line. On a wreath atop the coffin, a handwritten note read, “In loving and devoted memory,” and was signed Charles R — for Rex, or king.
“Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth, and from the nations of the world, to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service, and in sure confidence to commit her to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer,” the dean of the medieval abbey, David Hoyle, told the mourners.
The day began early when the doors of Parliament’s 900-year-old Westminster Hall were closed to mourners after hundreds of thousands had filed in front of her coffin.
Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of Elizabeth, who died Sept. 8 — and hundreds of thousands of people descended on central London to witness history. They jammed sidewalks to watch the coffin wend its way through the streets of the capital after the service. As the procession passed Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence in the city, staff stood outside, some bowing and curtseying.
Mark Elliott, 53, who traveled from the Lake District in northern England with his wife and two children to watch the procession, got up at 1:30 a.m. to stake out a good viewing location near the palace.
“I know we don’t know the queen, but she’s been our head of state for 70 years, you feel as though you know her, you feel as though she’s part of the family. It is kind of moving,” he said.