Queen Elizabeth II's State Funeral Allowed the World to Say a Final Goodbye
After 10 days of national mourning in the UK following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8 at the age of 96 at Balmoral, the monarch was finally laid to rest, on Sept. 19. The queen’s state funeral, the first since Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, was attended by thousands who lined the streets to see the procession of her coffin, some having camped out for days to watch her historic final journey in person. Millions more around the world watched on TV.
The funeral took place at Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. local time, conducted by the Dean of Westminster, with the Commendation given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said, “Rarely has such a promise been so well kept,” as the world remembered the longest-reigning monarch in British history. A wreath was laid on top of the coffin containing rosemary, English oak, flowers from the gardens of royal residences, and myrtle, which had been cut from a plant grown from the myrtle used in the Queen’s wedding bouquet.
Prince William and the Princess of Wales sat in the front with their children, Prince George, 9, who was dressed in a mourning suit and Princess Charlotte, 7, wearing a wide brim hat. Prince Louis, 4, who delighted the public with his cheekiness at the Platinum Jubilee, was absent from the funeral as it was reported he was deemed too young. The Queen’s great-grandchildren knew the Queen simply as “gan-gan.” The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat behind King Charles III and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla. The hour-long service ended with a two-minute silence to give mourners a moment to reflect on her remarkable 70-year reign.
A procession of her coffin, pulled by the State Gun Carriage and led by the Royal Navy Sailors, then made its way from the Abbey to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, taking the Queen past Buckingham Palace for the last time. The coffin was followed by a visibly emotional King Charles III and the Queen’s other children; Princess Anne, the Duke of York, and the Earl of Wessex. Partners and children followed in cars. At Wellington Arch, the coffin was transferred to a state hearse. As the vehicle left to drive to Windsor, the parade gave a Royal Salute and the National Anthem was played.
The funeral was also attended by political figures including President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. Royalty and international dignitaries included King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, and Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan also flew in for the occasion. Every living prime minister was at the service, as were holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross from across the Commonwealth. Almost 200 people who were recognized in the Queen’s birthday honours, including those who were celebrated for their contributions to the pandemic, also joined the congregation.
The Queen’s lying in state ended after four days with the final mourner entering Westminster Hall at 6:30 a.m. local time on the morning of the funeral. Thousands of people had queued for over 12 hours, including David Beckham, to pay their respects to the Queen as the line stretched up to five miles. This came after the Queen was lying in state at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh due to her death in Balmoral in Scotland. She was then flown down to London the next day.
A procession in Windsor, along Albert Road and the Long Walk, is underway as the coffin is taken to St George’s Chapel, the Queen’s final resting place, followed by members of the royal family. There, a committal service will be held and the Queen’s coffin will be lowered into the Royal Vault, which takes eight minutes. A private burial will take place at The King George VI Memorial Chapel where she will be buried alongside her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021, her parents, and her sister.