Thursday, April 25, 2024

A day of sorrow and ceremony

Britain and the world said a final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II at a state funeral Monday that drew presidents and kings, princes and prime ministers and crowds who massed along the streets of London to honour a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an age.

The trappings of state and monarchy abounded: The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard and atop it sat the Imperial State Crown, sparkling with almost 3,000 diamonds, and the sovereign’s orb and sceptre. But the personal was also present: a handwritten note from her son, King Charles that read, “In loving and devoted memory” and was signed Charles R — for Rex, or king.

Elizabeth’s funeral procession arrived at the west gate of the medieval abbey shortly before the service at 11 a.m. local time. Pallbearers lifted the coffin from the state gun carriage and carried it inside the Gothic structure.

David Hoyle, the dean of Westminster, began the service offering prayers for her family and recognizing “her unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years.”

The service, taking place where Elizabeth was married in 1947 and crowned in 1953, was attended by 2,000 people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. In addition, about 200 members of the British public previously recognized during this year’s Queen’s Jubilee for volunteer efforts were in attendance.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke at the service, telling the congregation that the grief felt by so many across Britain and the wider world reflected the late monarch’s “abundant life and loving service.”

“Her late majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth,” he said. “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.”

You can watch live coverage of the Queen’s funeral right now on CBC TV, CBC News Network, CBC Gem, and the CBC News app. At noon ET, the broadcast will turn to Ottawa for a national commemorative ceremony.

Near the end of service, two minutes of silence were observed in the Abbey and throughout the United Kingdom. The congregation then sang God Save the King, with a piper’s lament bringing the Anglican service to an end.

Next, a procession through the streets of London took the Queen’s coffin to Windsor, where a committal service was underway at St George’s Chapel.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried into Westminster Abbey for her funeral service, which was attended by leaders and dignitaries from around the world. (Frank Augstein/AFP/Getty Images)

David Conner, dean of Windsor, began the remarks at the service by noting the Queen’s “profound Christian faith” and “life of unstinting service to the nation, the Commonwealth and the wider world.”

“In the midst of our rapidly changing and frequently troubled world, her calm and dignified presence has given us confidence to face the future as she did, with courage and with hope,” Conner said.

During the procession, gun salutes were being fired in nearby Hyde Park, and Big Ben tolled at one-minute intervals during the procession.

More people lined the route the hearse took from the capital to Windsor Castle, and many threw flowers at the convoy as it passed, with some blooms resting on top of the vehicle.

As the Queen’s coffin arrived at the castle, there were poignant reminders of her love of animals: A groom stood at the roadside with one of her ponies, Emma, and another member of staff held the leashes of two of her beloved corgis, Sandy and Muick.

Elizabeth will be buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle alongside her husband, Prince Philip, her parents and the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

Many spectators camped overnight in London and outside Windsor Castle to catch a glimpse of the procession. Some came with blankets and bags of food, while others carried small step stools.

Sarah Grant, left, and Hailey Garforth arrived at 5 a.m. to get a spot along the procession route. Grant wore a hat her mother donned for King George VI’s funeral 70 years ago. 

Sarah Grant normally throws parties at her home in Sussex for royal events, but this time, she came down in person. Grant lined up wearing a black hat that her mother wore to King George IV’s funeral in 1952.

“The Queen has done a wonderful service for 70 years,” she told CBC News. “We wanted to soak up the atmosphere to see what it was like.”

(CBC News)



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